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FCC Reaffirms Analog Cellular Sunset

Washington — Cellular carriers will be able to turn off analog service on Feb. 18, 2008, as planned after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denied a petition by the home security industry for a two-year extension.

The alarm industry had “sufficient time and equipment to replace all analog alarm radios that are used as a primary communications path before the analog sunset date,” the FCC contended.

The FCC also said its 2002 decision to adopt a five-year analog-service sunset rule achieved its goal of accelerating the migration of emergency-only analog-cellular users to digital, and it spurred the cellular industry to develop hearing-aid-compatible digital handsets.

The FCC also noted that analog handsets are not available with location capability and that requiring carriers to continue offering analog service “could adversely impact deployment of E911 location capable digital handsets to all wireless consumers,” the commission said.

Commissioner Michael Copps said the sunset would also enable 850MHz cellular carriers to “redeploy spectrum from analog to digital use, much to the enhancement of carriers’ ability to provide wireless broadband services.” He also said industries ranging from telematics have said they are prepared for the analog sunset.

The FCC ruled that before discontinuing analog service, cellular licensees must notify, at specified intervals, all of their analog-only subscribers of their plans. The FCC also directed its Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to initiate a public outreach campaign to ensure that consumers, public safety groups, and other interested parties are prepared for the analog sunset.