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Considerations When Obtaining Frequency Coordination Services

There are two popular approaches to frequency coordinating a path:

  • Identify the equipment to be employed by manufacturer and model number, then contact a frequency coordinator before signing a contract with the equipment vendor.
  • Contract with a microwave equipment vendor and have the vendor provide the frequency coordination.

It is becoming common practice for microwave equipment vendors to provide one-stop shopping, and bundling the frequency coordination with the equipment purchase might be a good fit for a first-time microwave customer who just needs a working path and isn't planning for future expansion or isn't comfortable with the technology. However, reviewing FCC applications for licensed paths reveals that few equipment vendors actually perform the frequency coordination themselves -- the work is usually outsourced to established frequency coordination companies. With this in mind, there are a number of items to consider when turning your frequency coordination over to an equipment vendor rather than going directly to a recognized frequency coordinator:

Ensure provisions are made to cover situations in which a frequency pair cannot be identified

The frequency coordination process doesn't guarantee the availability of frequencies on your path, only that should a frequency pair exist it comes with the expectation of being interference-free.

  • Does it make sense to go through a contract negotiation for equipment purchase before knowing if the path can be licensed and in what frequency band? And,
  • Will your equipment vendor initiate the frequency coordination process before they have a contract in hand?

(With Black & Associates, if a frequency pair cannot be identified there is no charge for our services.)

Determine who will control the frequency coordination process

There are occasions where a frequency pair is available only if equipment changes are implemented. Are you given the opportunity to decide the course forward? Some common examples are:

  • An existing system can and must be protected, but protection is possible only by changing your antenna model, path polarization, transmit power, bandwidth, etc.
  • Perhaps a different frequency band is necessary -- are you locked in with your vendor, and does your locked-in vendor have equipment for the different band? Can you cancel the contract and change vendors because you prefer different equipment in different bands?
  • Perhaps you are looking for multiple frequency pairs in an area, but the only available frequencies could degrade the overall performance of your system?

Planning for future expansion

If you have a need for a few paths now but you plan to add additional paths in the future, will there be frequencies available at that time? It is common to hold frequencies for future expansion by coordinating them now and reserving them for 6 month intervals with a PCN distribution.

  • Will your equipment vendor coordinate your other paths at the same time? If so, at what cost?
  • Will they maintain the reserved frequencies through regular PCN distributions, and if so, for how long?

Your Frequency Coordinator Is Ready To Help

Going directly to an independent frequency coordinator before contracting with an equipment vendor can address these issues while adding a number of advantages:

  • The frequency coordination process is under your control, performed by a coordinator of your choosing.
  • Frequency coordination can be an extensive process requiring initial interaction to gather data followed by one or more analyses prior to the PCN. Our frequency coordination service is offered at a fixed cost with no cost incurred if frequencies cannot be identified for the proposed path. (Coordination costs and policies vary by coordinator.)
  • You have direct interaction with the frequency coordinator. Regardless of your experience or knowledge of the technical parameters involved, working directly with the frequency coordinator can quickly resolve any issues that arise with the initial path data request, or the path analysis.
  • Not all frequency coordination is initially successful and changes in the frequency band or sub-band, antenna and/or radio equipment, bandwidth and/or data rate may be required. Again, direct interaction with the coordinator to discuss solutions can resolve issues quickly.
  • You are not locked-in to a vendor, vendor reseller or an engineering company for equipment supply and installation. You have flexibility in controlling your costs.
  • Equipment does not have to be purchased until FCC authorization is obtained for the path and you are ready for construction.
  • The overall cost of frequency coordination is likely lower, as you have eliminated the middle-man.