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FCC order could affect SCADA, smart meters in 902 to 928-MHz band

From the June 19, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 19, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
The Federal Communications Commission adopted an order on June 6 allowing Progeny LMS, LLC to begin commercial operations of its position location service network in the 902 to 928-MHz band. Progeny’s service is designed to enable more accurate outdoor and in-building location information for E-911 and commercial location-based services (public safety personnel will be able to more accurately determine the location of a person making a 911 call from a mobile phone in a high-rise building).

This issue is relevant to public power utilities because some utilities utilize SCADA or automated meters that operate in the same band of spectrum as the Progeny service, but on an unlicensed basis. It is possible that Progeny’s operations could cause interference to wireless SCADA systems and smart meters. 

As a condition of approval, Progeny has agreed to report to the FCC every six months on the progress of its buildout in each license area, as well as on any complaints about "unacceptable levels of interference to Part 15 devices," the FCC said.

Part 15 devices are those that operate on an unlicensed basis in a particular band of spectrum, such as wireless routers for WiFi, baby monitors, garage door openers and automated/smart meters. The company also has agreed to create "a website and toll-free help desk to enable Part 15 device users to notify...[it] and seek assistance in investigating and mitigating potential interference issues." 

Although Progeny has agreed to these conditions, it holds licensed spectrum and does not have to mitigate interference that its operations cause to unlicensed devices operating in the same spectrum, the FCC noted. 

However, the commission said, "we expect Progeny to take reasonable steps to minimize, avoid, or remedy interference -- such as adjusting the transmitter height, radiation pattern, reducing power, or altering duty cycle -- at locations where a significant number of unlicensed users are affected."

APPA is aware of three companies that sell wireless SCADA and/or automated/smart meters that operate in this band that have raised concerns about interference from Progeny’s position location service network equipment. They are Itron, Landis+Gyr, and GE Digital Energy. Public power utilities that use devices manufactured by these companies might want to check whether those devices operate on the 902-928 MHz band. If they do, APPA is asking its member utilities to let the association know by contacting Desmarie Waterhouse, APPA, at or 202/467-2930.


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro