[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 244 (Tuesday, December 21, 1999)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 71369-71373]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-32840]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 0, 80, and 90

[WT Docket No. 99-332; FCC 99-348]


Making the Frequency 156.250 MHz Available for Port Operations 
Purposes in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA Ports

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document proposes to amend the Commission's rules to 
designate marine VHF Channel 05A for

[[Page 71370]]

port operations communications in Los Angeles and Long Beach, 
California ports. The effect of this rule is that it will foster 
reliable marine communications and increase safe vessel transit in the 
ports. The action will allow the LA/LB Pilots to manage vessel traffic 
in that area more efficiently and protect the marine environment by 
preventing collisions and groundings.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before January 18, 2000 and 
reply comments are due on or before February 1, 2000.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Shaffer of the Commission's 
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau at (202) 418-0680.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    1. This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rule 
Making FCC 99-348, adopted on November 15, 1999, and released on 
November 19, 1999. The full text of this Notice of Proposed Rule Making 
is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in 
the FCC Reference Center, Room CY A257, 445 12th Street, SW, 
Washington, DC. The complete text may be purchased from the 
Commission's copy contractor, International Transcription Service, 
Inc., 1231 20th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037.

Summary of Notice of Proposed Rule Making

    2. By letter the Los Angeles and Long Beach Port Pilots (jointly, 
LA/LB Pilots) request the assignment of an intership marine VHF channel 
dedicated to port operations (namely, pilot-tug communications) in the 
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. They note that marine 
VHF Channels 01A (156.050 MHz), 05A (156.250 MHz), and 63A (156.175 
MHz) are currently used for U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard) designated 
Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) systems in defined areas of the United 
States. The LA/LB Pilots recommend that one of these frequencies be 
designated for intership communications regarding port operations to 
improve vessel traffic safety in the Los Angeles and Long Beach port 
area. In this Notice of Proposed Rule Making, we propose to amend part 
80 of the Commission's rules to designate marine VHF Channel 05A for 
port operations communications in Los Angeles and Long Beach, 
California ports. We believe that this action will foster reliable 
marine communications and increase safe vessel transit in the ports.
    3. The LA/LB Pilots state that the ports of Los Angeles and Long 
Beach are among the busiest in the world, with considerable vessel 
congestion. In this type of environment, harbor pilots rely upon clear 
and effective radio communications with tugs to help ensure the safe 
ingress and egress of large vessels. The LA/LB Pilots note that there 
is only one frequency, marine VHF Channel 77 (156.875 MHz), dedicated 
to intership communications related to port operations. The 
Commission's rules provide that Channel 77 ``is limited to 
communications with pilots regarding the movement and docking of 
ships,'' and that ``[n]ormal output power must not exceed 1 watt.'' The 
LA/LB Pilots state that marine VHF Channel 77 is frequently congested. 
They further contend that while output power is limited to one watt, 
communications often carry over from one port to the other and there is 
interference when more than one ship is maneuvering in or out of port.
    4. The LA/LB Pilots note that marine VHF Channels 01A (156.050 
MHz), 05A (156.250 MHz), and 63A (156.175 MHz) are used for 
communications related to port operations in certain Coast Guard-
designated VTS areas. Specifically, the frequencies 156.050 MHz and 
156.175 MHz are currently allocated in the United States to the Public 
Safety Pool in the private land mobile radio services; however, they 
were made available to maritime radio users for commercial and port 
operation purposes in a portion of the Coast Guard-designated New 
Orleans VTS system. The frequency 156.250 MHz, which is currently 
allocated to maritime mobile radio, was made available for port 
operations purposes within the Coast Guard-designated Houston and New 
Orleans VTS systems, and Seattle VTS system. The LA/LB Pilots state 
that their monitoring of these channels detected no users in the area 
of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
    5. In addition, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Safety Committee 
(LA/LB Safety Committee) note that the Coast Guard and Marine Exchange 
of Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor, Inc., acting for the State of 
California, currently have a Memorandum of Agreement in which the Coast 
Guard agrees to provide personnel support for the operation of an 
interim Vessel Traffic Information Service (VTIS). The VTIS system is 
an advisory communications service to coordinate vessel movement and 
prevent damage to or loss of vessels, bridges or other structures, and 
to protect these waters and associated natural resources from 
environmental harm resulting from such damage or loss. Vessels report, 
by voice, information related to position, navigation and conditions 
affecting navigation to the Coast Guard, which tracks the vessels' 
movements. The LA/LB Safety Committee also recommend the use of either 
marine VHF Channels 01A, 05A, or 63A for intership communications 
related to port operations in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.
    6. The LA/LB Pilots also note that authorities responsible for port 
safety, including the Coast Guard, the California Office of Oil Spill 
Response and Prevention, and the LA/LB Harbor Safety Committee, fully 
support the request. The Southern California Marine Radio Council 
(SCMRC), which is the FCC-designated marine VHF frequency coordinating 
committee for this region, also supports this request.
    7. As an initial step to provide some relief for frequency 
congestion in communications related to port operations in the Los 
Angeles and Long Beach port areas the feasibility of using frequency 
156.250 MHz for intership communications was investigated in 
conjunction with the Coast Guard and industry. This frequency had not 
been previously assigned, other than in Coast Guard-designated Houston, 
New Orleans, and Seattle VTS systems because of its band edge location 
and the resultant potential harmful interference with land mobile radio 
assignments on the adjacent public safety frequency 156.240 MHz. 
However, after reviewing assignments in the Los Angeles and Long Beach 
area it appears that 156.250 MHz could be utilized without harmful 
interference to existing radio operations as it is not assigned for 
public safety purposes. Therefore, we believe it is in the public 
interest to provide in the Rules for the use of frequency 156.250 MHz 
(marine VHF Channel 05A) in the Los Angeles and Long Beach port areas 
to alleviate the communications congestion related to port operations. 
Thus, we propose to amend Sec. 80.373 of the Commission's rules to so 
provide. Further, we propose to make assignments on Public Safety Pool 
frequencies of 156.240 and 156.2475 MHz within 100 miles of the 
geographic center of Los Angeles, defined as 34 deg. 03' 15'' north 
latitude and 118 deg. 14' 28'' west longitude, secondary to marine port 
operations on 156.250 MHz. We propose to amend Sec. 90.20 of the 
Commission's rules to indicate the aforementioned secondary status. We 
seek comment on these proposals.
    8. Accordingly, effective upon the adoption date of this Notice of 
Proposed Rule Making, no applications for public safety pool 
frequencies of 156.240 and

[[Page 71371]]

156.2475 MHz within 100 miles of the geographic center of Los Angeles 
will be accepted for filing during the pendency of the Notice of 
Proposed Rule Making. Any applications received on or after this date 
will be returned as unacceptable for filing.
    9. We note that currently there are no private coast stations 
authorized to operate on marine VHF Channel 05A within the Los Angeles 
and Long Beach area. We propose not to authorize future private coast 
stations on this channel if we ultimately designate marine VHF Channel 
05A for port operations. The Marine Exchange of Los Angeles-Long Beach 
Harbor, Inc., which operates the VTIS for the ports of Los Angeles and 
Long Beach, describes its area of responsibility as within a 25-
nautical mile radius of Point Fermin. We propose to designate this area 
as the radio protection area for port operations on 156.250 MHz. We do 
not believe that such an approach would adversely affect private coast 
operations. In this connection, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau 
staff would assist future applicants in finding suitable alternative 
channels to Channel 05A. We seek comment on this proposal.
    10. Finally, we propose to amend Sec. 0.331 of the Commission's 
rules to authorize the Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to 
amend the maritime service rules at the request of the United States 
Coast Guard to indicate that the use of marine VHF frequencies in 
defined port areas are available for intership communications related 
to port operations to alleviate the communications congestion related 
to port operations. We believe that this approach will allow the 
Commission to expedite these requests, which will increase safe vessel 
transit and protect U.S. waters and associated natural resources from 
environmental harm. We seek comment on this proposal.
    11. We conclude that permitting frequency 156.250 MHz (marine VHF 
Channel 05A) for intership communications related to port operations in 
the Los Angeles and Long Beach, California ports will allow the LA/LB 
Pilots to manage vessel traffic in that area more efficiently and 
protect the marine environment by preventing vessel collisions and 
groundings. We are proposing, therefore, to amend Sec. 80.373(f) of the 
Commission's rules to indicate that frequency 156.250 MHz (marine VHF 
Channel 05A) is available only for intership communications related to 
port operations within the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor areas. The 
radio protection area will be defined as ``within a 25-nautical mile 
radius of Point Fermin, California.'' Additionally, we are proposing to 
amend Sec. 90.20(c) of the Commission's rules to indicate that 
assignments on public safety pool frequencies of 156.240 and 156.2475 
MHz within 100 miles of the geographic center of Los Angeles are 
secondary to marine port operations on 156.250 MHz.

Procedural Matters

    12. Ex Parte Presentations. This Notice of Proposed Rule Making is 
a permit-but-disclose notice and comment rule making proceeding. Ex 
parte presentations are permitted, provided they are disclosed as 
provided in Commission Rules.
    13. Pleading Dates. Pursuant to Sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the 
Commission's rules, interested parties may file comments on or before 
January 18, 2000, and reply comments on or before February 1, 2000. 
Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing 
System (ECFS) or by filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of 
Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    14. Comments filed through the ECFS can be sent as an electronic 
file via the Internet to <http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html>. 
Generally, only one copy of an electronic submission must be filed. If 
multiple docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this 
proceeding, however, commenters must transmit one electronic copy of 
the comments to each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the 
caption. In completing the transmittal screen, commenters should 
include their full name, Postal Service mailing address, and the 
applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an 
electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions for 
e-mail comments, commenters should send an e-mail to [email protected], and 
should include the following words in the body of the message, ``get 
form .'' A sample form and directions will be sent 
in reply.
    15. Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and 
four copies of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking 
number appear in the caption of this proceeding, commenters must submit 
two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number. 
All filings must be sent to the Commission's Secretary, Magalie Roman 
Salas, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 
12th Street, SW, Room TW-B204, Washington, DC 20554.
    16. Parties who choose to file by paper should also submit their 
comments on diskette. These diskettes should be submitted to: Public 
Safety and Private Wireless Division, Wireless Telecommunications 
Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554. Such a submission 
should be on a 3.5 inch diskette formatted in an IBM compatible format 
using WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows or compatible software. The diskette 
should be accompanied by a cover letter and should be submitted in 
``read only'' mode. The diskette should be clearly labeled with the 
commenter's name, proceeding (including the docket number in this case, 
type of pleading (comment or reply comment), date of submission, and 
the name of the electronic file on the diskette. The label should also 
include the following phrase: ``Disk Copy--Not an Original.'' Each 
diskette should contain only one party's pleadings, preferably in a 
single electronic file. In addition, commenters must send diskette 
copies to the Commission's copy contractor, International Transcription 
Service, Inc., 1231 20th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analyses

    17. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act,1 the 
Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis of 
the possible impact on small entities of the proposals suggested in the 
Notice of Proposed Rule Making. See Appendix A. Written public comments 
are requested on the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. These 
comments must be filed in accordance with the same filing deadlines as 
comments on the rest of this Notice but they must have a separate and 
distinct heading designating them as responses to the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. The Office of Public Affairs, 
Reference Operations Division, will send a copy of this Notice of 
Proposed Rule Making, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See 5 U.S.C. 603.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ordering Clauses

    18. Authority for issuance of this Notice of Proposed Rule Making 
is contained in Sections 4(i), 4(j), 303(r), and 403 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 303(r), and 
403.
    19. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN and COMMENT IS SOUGHT on the proposed 
regulatory changes described

[[Page 71372]]

in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making, as set forth in Proposed rules.
    20. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Office of Public 
Affairs, Reference Operations Division, SHALL SEND a copy of this 
Notice of Proposed Rule Making, including the Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analyses, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration.
    21. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that effective upon the release date of 
this Notice of Proposed Rule Making, no applications will be accepted 
for filing for the public safety frequencies of 156.240 and 156.2475 
MHz within 100 miles of the geographic center of Los Angeles, defined 
as 34 deg. 03' 15'' north latitude and 118 deg. 14' 28'' west 
longitude. This freeze will continue until the Commission makes an 
announcement that such applications acceptance will resume.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    As required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility 
Act,2 the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the expected significant economic impact 
on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in the Amendment 
of parts 0, 80, and 90 of the Commission's rules to Make the Frequency 
156.250 MHz Available for Port Operations Purposes in Los Angeles and 
Long Beach, CA Ports. Written public comments are requested on the 
IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be 
filed by the deadlines for comments on the Amendment of parts 0, 80, 
and 90 of the Commission's rules to Make the Frequency 156.250 MHz 
Available for Port Operations Purposes in Los Angeles and Long Beach, 
CA Ports, provided in paragraph 11 of the item. The Commission will 
send a copy of the Amendment of parts 0, 80, and 90 of the Commission's 
rules to Make the Frequency 156.250 MHz Available for Port Operations 
Purposes in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA Ports, including this IRFA, 
to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. 
See 5 U.S.C. 603(a). In addition, the Amendment of parts 0, 80, and 90 
of the Commission's rules to Make the Frequency 156.250 MHz Available 
for Port Operations Purposes in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA Ports 
and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal 
Register. See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ 5 U.S.C. 603.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

I. Need for and Objectives of the Proposed Rule

    The purpose of this Notice is to determine whether it is in the 
public interest, convenience, and necessity to amend our rules to allow 
frequency 156.250 MHz (marine VHF Channel 05A) to be used for 
communications related to port operations in the Los Angeles and Long 
Beach harbor areas. These proposed actions should protect the marine 
environment and increase the safety and efficiency of navigation and 
movement of ship by allowing the LA/LB Pilots to manage vessel traffic 
in that area more efficiently.

II. Legal Basis:

    Authority for issuance of this Notice of Proposed Rule Making is 
contained in Sections 4(i) and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 
1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i) and 303(r).

III. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
Rule Will Apply

    The proposed amendments will affect small businesses in the marine 
radio services that use a marine VHF radio. Neither the Commission nor 
the SBA has developed a definition of small entities applicable to 
marine radio services that use a marine VHF radio. Therefore, the 
applicable definition of small entity is the definition under the SBA 
rules applicable to radiotelephone (wireless) companies. This provides 
that a small entity is a radiotelephone company employing no more than 
1,500 persons. According to the Bureau of the Census, only twelve 
radiotelephone firms out of a total of 1,178 such firms which operated 
during 1992 had 1,000 or more employees. Therefore, even if all twelve 
of these firms were companies that used a marine VHF radio, nearly all 
such companies were small businesses under the SBA's definition. We 
invite comment on whether this is the correct definition to use in this 
context.

IV. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    There are no reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance 
requirements proposed.

V. Significant Alternatives to Proposed Rules Which Minimize 
Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Accomplish Stated 
Objectives

    The proposed rules would make frequency 156.250 MHz (marine VHF 
Channel 05A) available for intership communications related to port 
operations in the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor areas. We believe 
that this flexible approach allows the LA/LB Pilots to manage vessel 
traffic in the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor areas more efficiently 
and protect the marine environment by preventing vessel collisions and 
groundings. Currently under the rules frequency 156.250 MHz is 
currently allocated to maritime mobile and was made available for port 
operations purposes within the Coast Guard designated Houston and New 
Orleans, and Seattle Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) systems. We seek 
comments on whether the proposed amendment are sufficient to alleviate 
the communications congestion related to port operations in the Los 
Angeles and Long Beach harbor areas. This decision benefits small 
entities and seeks to ensure reliable marine communications, increase 
safe vessel transit to protect U.S. waters and associated natural 
resources from environmental harm, and increase port efficiency thereby 
promoting growth within the shipping community.

VI. Federal Rules Which Overlap, Duplicate or Conflict With These Rules

    None.

List of Subjects

47 CFR Part 0

    Administrative practice and procedure.

47 CFR Part 80

    Communications equipment, marine safety.

47 CFR Part 90

    Communications equipment.

Federal Communications Commission.
Magalie Roman Salas,
Secretary.

Proposed Rules

    Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 0, 80 and 90, 
are proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 0--COMMISSION ORGANIZATION

    1. The authority citation for part 0 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 5, 48 Stat. 1068, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 155.

    2. Section 0.331 is amended by adding new paragraph (d)(3) to read 
as follows:


Sec. 0.331  Authority delegated.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (3) Designate by footnote to frequency table in Sec. 80.373(f) of 
this chapter marine VHF frequencies are available

[[Page 71373]]

for intership port operations communications in defined port areas.

PART 80--STATIONS IN THE MARITIME SERVICES

    3. The authority citation for part 80 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 4, 303, 307 (e), 309 and 322, 48 Stat. 1066, 
1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 307 (e), 309 and 322 unless 
otherwise noted. Interpret or apply 48 Stat. 1064-1068, 1081-1105, 
as amended; 47 U.S.C. 151-155, 301-609; 3 UST 3450, 3 UST 4726, 12 
UST 2377.

    4. In Sec. 80.373 (f), footnote 2 to the table is amended as 
follows:


Sec. 80.373  Private communications frequencies.

* * * * *
    \2\ 156.250 MHz is available for port operations communications 
use only within the U.S. Coast Guard designated VTS radio protection 
areas of New Orleans and Houston described in Sec. 80.383. 156.250 
MHz is available for intership port operations communications used 
only within the area of Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, within a 
25-nautical mile radius of Point Fermin, California.
* * * * *

PART 90--PRIVATE LAND MOBILE RADIO SERVICES

    5. The authority citation for part 90 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 4, 251-2, 303, 309 and 322, 48 Stat. 1066, 
1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 154, 251-2, 303, 309 and 322 unless 
otherwise noted.

    6. Section 90.20 is amended by revising the table in paragraph (c) 
(3) and by adding paragraph (d)(79) to read as follows:


Sec. 90.20  Public Safety Pool.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (3) * * *

                                       Public Safety Pool Frequency Table
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Frequency or band             Class of station(s)            Limitations               Coordinator
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          *         *         *         *         *         *         *
156.240..........................      do...................  43, 79..................  PH
156.2475.........................      do...................  43, 44, 79..............  PH
                          *         *         *         *         *         *         *
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (79) This frequency will be secondary to marine port operations 
within 100 miles of Los Angeles (coordinates 34 deg. 03' 15'' north 
latitude and 118 deg. 14' 28'' west longitude).
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 99-32840 Filed 12-20-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P