700 MHz Regional Planning
In 1998, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established a structure to allow Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) optimal flexibility to meet state and local needs, encourage innovative use of the spectrum, and accommodate new and unanticipated developments in technology and equipment.1 There are fifty-five RPCs, and each committee is required to submit its plan for the General Use spectrum. 2 The FCC’s role in relation to the RPCs is limited to (1) defining the regional boundaries; (2) requiring fair and open procedures, i.e., requiring notice, opportunity for comment, and reasonable consideration; (3) specifying the elements that all regional plans must include; and (4) reviewing and accepting proposed plans (or amendments to approved plans) or rejecting them with an explanation. 3 Additional RPC information is provided in this interactive map.
The FCC expects RPCs to ensure that they are representative of all public safety entities in their regions by providing reasonable notice of all meetings and deliberations. Further, regional plans must include an explanation of how all eligible entities within the region were given such notice. 4 For the initial meeting, called by the convener to form the RPC and hold elections, the FCC requires at least sixty days notice. 5 In developing their regional plans, RPCs must ensure that their proposed plans comply with the rules and policies governing the 700 MHz public safety regional planning process. 6 The FCC also encourages the RPCs to consider using the guidelines developed by the Public Safety National Coordination Committee (NCC). 7 RPCs may approach the assignment of the spectrum differently, by, for example, making specific assignments to eligible public safety entities, or by establishing an allotment pool based on political boundaries, such as counties.
On July 31, 2007, the FCC adopted a Second Report and Order revising the rules governing wireless licenses in the 700 MHz band and adopting a plan for the 700 MHz band to establish a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband communications network for the benefit of state and local public safety users.8 The FCC designated the lower half of the 700 MHz public safety band for broadband communications (763-768/793-798 MHz) and consolidated existing narrowband allocations in the upper half of the public safety 700 MHz band (769-775/799-805 MHz).
In revising the band plan for the public safety 700 MHz band, the FCC noted that consolidating the narrowband channels in the upper part of the band will impact approved and pending 700 MHz RPC plans (i.e. require that the plans be amended). 9 The FCC required RPCs with approved plans or plans on file to submit amended plans consistent with the decisions adopted in the Second Report and Order by November 23, 2007. 10 On November 9, 2007, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau extended the deadline for RPCs to submit amended plans, consistent with the decisions adopted in the Second Report and Order, to January 31, 2008, and provided additional guidance for the development of plan amendments. 11
1 See 47 C.F.R. § 90.527; see also Development of Operational, Technical and Spectrum Requirements for Meeting Federal, State and Local Public Safety Agency Communication Requirements Through the Year 2010, WT Docket No. 96-86, First Report and Order and Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 14 FCC Rcd 152 (1998) (First Report and Order); Second Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 16844 (2000).
2 See 47 C.F.R. § 90.527. Each RPC must incorporate certain common elements into its 700 MHz plan. A list of 700 MHz RPCs and region activities is available at http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/public-safety-spectrum/700-MHz/.
3 First Report and Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 195 ¶ 87.
4 Id. at 193-94 ¶ 84. RPCs must promptly adopt operating procedures that "ensure that all entities will be given reasonable notice of all committee meetings and deliberations." Id. at 195 ¶ 86.
5 Id. at 195 ¶ 86 & n.220.
6 47 C.F.R. § 90.527; see also First Report and Order, 14 FCC Rcd at 190-96 ¶¶ 77-89.
7 The NCC was a federal advisory committee established by the Commission in 1999 to address and advise the Commission on operational and technical parameters for use of the 700 MHz public safety band. In addition, the NCC was tasked with providing voluntary assistance in the development of coordinated regional plans, and developed a Regional Planning Guidebook. Following the sunset of the NCC's charter on July 25, 2003, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) agreed to continue to provide assistance to regional planners. A copy of the 700 MHz Regional Planning Guidebook is available at the NPSTC website http://www.npstc.org/documents.html.
8 Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band; Development of Operational, Technical and Spectrum Requirements for Meeting Federal, State and Local Public Safety Communications Requirements Through the Year 2010, PS Docket No. 06-229, WT Docket No. 96-86, Second Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd 15289 (2007) (Second Report and Order).
9 Id. at 15414 ¶ 346.
10 As of the adoption date of the Second Report and Order, the following regional plans had been approved: Region 5 (Southern California), Region 19, (New England), Region 24 (Missouri), Region 22 (Minnesota), Region 12 (Idaho), Region 39 (Tennessee), Region 43 (Washington), Region 41 (Utah), Region 3 (Arizona), and Region 40 (Northern Texas). The following regional plans were pending as of the adoption date of the Second Report and Order: Region 1 (Alabama), Region 27 (Nevada), Region 45 (Wisconsin), Region 7 (Colorado), Region 9 (Florida), Region 16 (Kansas), and Region 20 (Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia).
11 See Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Announces an Extension of the Deadline for 700 MHz Regional Planning Committees to Amend 700 MHz Narrowband Plans from November 23, 2007 to January 31, 2008, PS Docket No. 06-229, WT Docket No. 96-86, Public Notice, 22 FCC Rcd 19461 (PSHSB 2007).