ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

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kkiddkkidd
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ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by kkiddkkidd » Tue Feb 09, 2016 2:47 pm

So consider this purely hypothetical situation...

A local WISP has a tower over 200ft. Properly approved by the FAA. Properly lit and painted. Nothing licensed on the tower.

NO ASR. Tower owner sez that since there is nothing licensed on the tower it is exempt from ASR. I sort of read it the same way but was under the impression that ANY structure over 200ft had to be registered IF it had ANY antenna on it.

There are about 30 channels of various unlicensed WISP type equipment hanging on it.

Now, a local station is considering a (hypothetical) FM Class A move to this tower that will require an ASR for filing.

I see enough ambiguity here to make me a little nervous. Hypothetically of course.

Questions:

Is the FCC going to pitch a fit when they file for an ASR, because it has been there for years and never had an ASR?
Is applying for an ASR going to trigger an environmental impact study?

Later,
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by TPT » Tue Feb 09, 2016 5:08 pm

The move of a licensed service to this tower will trigger the ASR requirement--because it is tied into the environmental requirements triggered by the 301 filing.

Kind of been there, done that: 190' tower cleared by the FAA but required an ASR because it failed TOWAIR. At that site, I could stand on the roof of the transmitter building with my cell phone and fail TOWAIR--it's 200 feet higher than the airport at ground level.

You'll most likely will need the "environmental consultant" to get through this--figure $3K to him, another $3K in bribes to the Indian tribes. Since the tower is already there, unlikely to get much resistance from state historical preservation folks. It helps that no "construction" is needed--hence no ground disturbance.

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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by Deep Thought » Tue Feb 09, 2016 6:09 pm

Existing towers don't need much more than an ASRN filing and local notice. It's a pain in the butt because it puts an unavoidable 45+ day delay into the process, but as long as you aren't doing anything other than mounting an antenna on it does not require the environmental stuff. Just got done doing this for a LPFM that found itself in the exact same situation.
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by kkiddkkidd » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:28 am

Great. Thanks for the replies. I was hypothetically concerned that they would be hit for the usual $6-8k in bribes.... err... studies.

I would have sworn that the ORIGINAL intent of the ASR was to have ALL communications towers registered since there are so many towers where the tower owner had (or would never have) FCC licenses. In another life, far, far away, I was service manager for a 2-way shop and we managed several tower properties. At that time, all licensees were responsible for the tower lighting. The early major vertical real estate companies were less than responsive to light outages and paint problems. The licensee's were being fined OR calling in duplicate NOTAMs to avoid fines due to the non-performance of the tower owners. As I recall, at the behest of the FAA, the FCC began the tower registration effort to put the responsibility back on the tower owner.

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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by Deep Thought » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:49 am

Licensees on a tower are still ultimately responsible for lighting and marking regardless of who owns the tower...the requirements are right there on the license. The problem here is that the FCC has no jurisdiction over towers that have no licensed services on them, or over owners who are not licensees. I am in the middle of registering another tower for a client who is moving their FM to one that is part of the national rural wireless Internet effort. The owner couldn't be bothered since there was no licensed anything on tower up to this point, and the FM is a NCE getting a sweetheart deal on tower rent. The owner has the FAA's blessing at least...the LPFM tower I mentioned earlier is an 80-foot cell tower that someone built 20 years ago in the approach to one of the runways at Lambert-St. Louis airport, without notifying anyone. :roll:
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by radio_guru » Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:39 pm

Not any more. The revised Part 17 rules released last year places all responsibility on the structure owner.

Also, it doesn't matter whether the radio systems on the structure are licensed or Part 15. It is urban legend Part 15 is exempt. It is not. The radio systems are authorized under any Part, and as such compels the ASR registration under Part 17. That was straight from Bob Greenberg himself before he died and nothing has changed in the 19 years since.

This is why you won't necessarily find ASR's for federally owned towers or structures with federal equipment only. They're managed/licensed/authorized under NTIA, a completely different CFR from the FCC.

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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by Chris Arnesen » Fri Feb 26, 2016 4:53 pm

radio_guru wrote:Also, it doesn't matter whether the radio systems on the structure are licensed or Part 15. It is urban legend Part 15 is exempt. It is not. The radio systems are authorized under any Part, and as such compels the ASR registration under Part 17.
This is probably why the term "unlicensed" isn't correct and "licensed by rule" is. :D
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by kkiddkkidd » Fri Feb 26, 2016 5:16 pm

radio_guru wrote:Not any more. The revised Part 17 rules released last year places all responsibility on the structure owner.

Also, it doesn't matter whether the radio systems on the structure are licensed or Part 15. It is urban legend Part 15 is exempt. It is not. The radio systems are authorized under any Part, and as such compels the ASR registration under Part 17. That was straight from Bob Greenberg himself before he died and nothing has changed in the 19 years since.

This is why you won't necessarily find ASR's for federally owned towers or structures with federal equipment only. They're managed/licensed/authorized under NTIA, a completely different CFR from the FCC.
Did this just happen last year? What I read in Part 17 is what I recalled being the purpose of the whole ASR thing anyway.

Part 17.2a is pretty clear now that I find it...

§17.2 Definitions.

(a) Antenna structure. The term antenna structure means a structure that is constructed or used to transmit radio energy, or that is constructed or used for the primary purpose of supporting antennas to transmit and/or receive radio energy, and any antennas and other appurtenances mounted thereon, from the time construction of the supporting structure begins until such time as the supporting structure is dismantled.
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by Deep Thought » Sat Feb 27, 2016 2:12 pm

The part 17 rules and reality don't have much in common.

Problem is, the FCC really has no authority over any structure that does not have an explicitly-granted license facility on it. Or put another way, they don't have any practical leverage over someone who does not hold an FCC license. This is the same soft spot that undermines enforcement of unlicensed operation prohibitions. Unless they get some sort of law enforcement involved it's just a bunch of threats.

I've got a client who is moving to a tower which is part of the NTIA "rural broadband" initiative. It required FAA study (which the FAA signed off on without issue) but the owner did not register it with the FCC because he didn't have to. Now that a Part 73 FM wants to use it the Commish wants it registered and is holding up the CP until that happens. Chicken, meet egg.
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sun Feb 28, 2016 9:31 am

Deep Thought wrote: Now that a Part 73 FM wants to use it the Commish wants it registered and is holding up the CP until that happens. Chicken, meet egg.
And tangent to the above... Will the FCC also require all the Environmental and Indian studies as if you were building a new tower for a new Part 73 site? Although the "hypothetical" tower has been standing for several years?

Just trying to get a feel for any obstacle that might pop up if this project becomes reality.

Thanks,
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by Deep Thought » Sun Feb 28, 2016 2:25 pm

So far, no. However, the language which could require it is in the rules should the site be deemed "significant" and the studies should have been done prior to the tower's construction even if that was 30 years ago.

This is another instance where good intentions have unleashed a regulatory monster.
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Re: ASR for towers holding unlicensed WISP equipment

Post by kkiddkkidd » Sun Feb 28, 2016 3:14 pm

Deep Thought wrote:So far, no. However, the language which could require it is in the rules should the site be deemed "significant" and the studies should have been done prior to the tower's construction even if that was 30 years ago.

This is another instance where good intentions have unleashed a regulatory monster.
Which is often the case with government regulations. The old law of unintended consequences.

Let me know if the environmental or tribal monster rears it's ugly head.
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