Bi-Directional Amplifiers: Info and Requirements

In 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new rules for Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA’s) which went into full effect on March 1, 2014. In conjunction with the new rules, the MPSCS revised policies and procedures related to BDA’s, also known as signal boosters. Following are some of the main items to note regarding use of a signal booster for MPSCS communications.

Licensee Consent is Required
  • The FCC requires that non-licensees who seek to operate signal boosters must obtain the consent of the licensee[s] whose signals they intend to amplify. Consent will be provided as a letter, which the FCC requires be kept on file for presentation upon request of the FCC or licensees.
FCC Signal Booster Classifications
  • Class A: Designed to retransmit signals on one or more specific channels. Also known as a “channelized” BDA.
  • Class B: Designed to retransmit any signals within a wide frequency band. Also known as a “wideband” BDA.
Class B Signal Booster Registration
  • The FCC requires that both new and existing Class B signal boosters (wideband BDA’s) be registered through the FCC Signal Booster Registration website at: www.fcc.gov/signal-boosters/registration. Any Class B signal boosters not registered after Nov. 1, 2014 will be subject to FCC enforcement action.
Signal Boosters Limitation to Single Service Band
  • The FCC prohibits a single Class B signal booster device from amplifying both commercial services, e.g., ESMR (Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio) and Cellular Radiotelephone; and Private Land Mobile Radio Services. This does not apply to DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) because they involve a higher level of design and implementation to address the needs of each service.
Signal Booster Technical Requirements
  • The Signal boosters must be capable of amplifying APCO Project 25 signals.
  • Signal boosters must be capable of amplifying 700 MHz Public Safety Narrowband frequencies (763-775 MHz / 793-805 MHz).
  • Signal boosters must be capable of amplifying 800 MHz NPSPAC Band, 800 MHz non-NPSPAC Public Safety/BILT/Non-Cellular SMR Band, 800 MHZ Expansion Band, and 800 MHz Guard Band frequencies (806-817 MHz / 851-862 MHz).
  • Signal boosters must comply with all applicable fire and electrical codes.
Section 510.4.2.2 of the International Fire Code requires fire code officials to be capable of providing, upon request, specific technical information and requirements pertaining to their emergency responder communications system. MPSCS is the repository for this information for all its members. Local fire authorities may request this technical information by emailing to: MPSCS-BDA@michigan.gov
 
Additionally, following are the Five Steps To Obtain Licensee Consent and meet FCC regulations for use of signal boosters amplifying MPSCS frequencies:
  1. You may submit the electronic form to request MPSCS consent to use of the proposed signal booster.
  2. MPSCS will review the submitted form and reserves the right to request additional information regarding the proposed signal booster.
  3.  Upon approval of the proposed signal booster, MPSCS shall supply a letter of express consent allowing the use of the signal booster to amplify and retransmit frequencies licensed on the applicable MPSCS provided call signs. Per FCC regulations, this letter is required to be maintained by the signal booster operator, to be presented to an FCC representative or a licensee investigating interference.
  4. For Class B signal boosters, the requestor is required to comply with FCC regulation 47CFR90.219 by registering the approved device through the FCC signal booster registration website: www.fcc.gov/signal-boosters/registration.
  5. Upon successful registration, the requestor must provide the FCC Booster ID of this device to the MPSCS as proof of registration. This information can be emailed to MPSCS-BDA@michigan.gov