Announcing a new FCC.gov. Tell us what you think and help shape the future
Federal Communications Commission Logo - Click here to go to the FCC home page

Specialized Mobile Radio Service

 

About Specialized Mobile Radio Service


The Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) service was first established by the Commission in 1979 to provide land mobile communications on a commercial (i.e., for profit) basis. A traditional SMR system consists of one or more base station transmitters, one or more antennas, and end user radio equipment that usually consists of a mobile radio unit either provided by the end user or obtained from the SMR operator for a fee. SMR end users may operate in either an "interconnected" mode or a "dispatch" mode. Interconnected mode connects mobile radio units with the public switched telephone network (PSTN) through the SMR base station. This allows the mobile radio unit to function as a mobile telephone. Dispatch mode allows two-way, over the air, voice communications between two or more mobile units (e.g., between a car and a truck) or between mobile units and fixed units (e.g., between the end user's office and a truck).
 

Types of SMR Systems

SMR systems consist of three distinct types: conventional radio system (see definition in rule 90.7), trunked radio system (see definition in rule 90.7), and 800 MHz cellular system (see definition in rule 90.7 or FCC 04-168 (pdf). A conventional radio system typically utilizes high powered base stations. End users must manually monitor channels to ensure that they are not occupied before talking. If someone else is already using that end user's assigned channel, the end user must wait until the channel is available. In contrast, a trunked radio system combines channels and contains micro processing capabilities that automatically search for an open channel. This search capability allows more users to be served at any one time. Finally, 800 MHz cellular systems, that also utilize micro processing capabilities, additionally use low powered base stations and reuse frequencies over a wide operating area to further increase the efficient use of the spectrum. The majority of the current SMR systems are either trunked radio systems or 800 MHz cellular systems.
Return to Top Arrow Return To Top
 

Usage

Traditionally SMR systems were used for dispatch, but with the introduction of cellular systems in the band two-way voice use has become more prominent. The development of a digital SMR marketplace has allowed new features and services, such as internet access, two-way acknowledgment paging and inventory tracking, credit card authorization, automatic vehicle location, fleet management, remote database access, and voicemail. The growth of SMR systems has been significant due to these developments.
Return to Top Arrow Return To Top
 

SMR Terminology

Band Names
Upper 200 channels: 200 SMR channels from channels 401 through 600 (channel blocks A, B, and C) prior to band reconfiguration ; channels from 511 through 710 (channel blocks A, B, and C) after band reconfiguration.
Lower 80 channels: 80 SMR channels interleaved from channel 201 through 388 (channel blocks G-V) prior to band reconfiguration; 80 SMR channels interleaved from channel 315 through 510 (site based licensing with grandfathered non-cellular channel blocks G-V) after band reconfiguration.
General Category channels
150 SMR channels from 1 through 150 (channel blocks D, D1, E, E1, F, F1 (or D, DD, E, EE, F, FF in ULS)) prior to band reconfiguration; most of this spectrum will be occupied by NPSPAC (Public Safety) users after band reconfiguration.
Geographic Area Names
EA: Fundamental geographic areas for the 800 MHz SMR services are referred to as Economic Areas (EA’s) and are defined in rule 90.7. These same areas are also referred to as Basic Economic Areas (BEA’s) for auctions and licensing purposes. Counties are combined to create EA’s. The US and its territories are divided into 175 EA’s which may be partitioned.
MTA
Fundamental geographic areas for 900 MHz SMR services are referred to as Major Trading Area’s (MTA’s) and are defined in rule 90.7. Counties are combined to create MTA’s. The US and its territories are divided into 51 MTA’s which may be partitioned.
Radio Service Codes
Return to Top Arrow Return To Top
 

Auctions History

As of the last update to this web site there have been four auctions of the 800 MHz band and two auctions of the 900 MHz band. There is additional information regarding auctions at the FCC Auctions Home Page. The six SMR service auctions are listed below.
800 MHz
On December 8, 1997, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 525 licenses (three licenses in each of 175 EA geographic areas) for the upper 200 channels of the 800 MHz band. The auction raised (in net high bids) a total of $96,232,060.00 for the US Treasury (Auction 16).
On September 1, 2000, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 1050 licenses (6 licenses in each of 175 EA geographic areas) for the general category channels of the 800 MHz band (prior to Band Reconfiguration). The auction raised (in net high bids) a total of $319,451,810.00 for the US Treasury (Auction 34).
On December 5, 2000, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 2800 licenses (16 licenses in each of 175 EA geographic areas) for the lower 80 channels of the 800 MHz band. The auction raised (in net high bids) a total of $28,978,385.00 for the US Treasury (Auction 36).
On January 17, 2002, the Federal Communications Commission completed the Multi Radio Service Auction, which consisted of various types of wireless licenses, including 23 licenses for the general category channels of the 800 MHz band (prior to Band Reconfiguration). The auction raised (for the 23 licenses in net high bids) a total of $1,365,525.00 for the US Treasury (Auction 43).
900 MHz
On April 15, 1996, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 1020 licenses (20 licenses in each of 51 MTA geographic areas). The auction raised (in net high bids) a total of $204,267,144.00 for the US Treasury (Auction 7).
On February 25, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 55 900 MHz SMR licenses. The auction raised (in net high bids) a total of $4,861,020.00 for the US Treasury (Auction 55).
 
Return to Top Arrow Return To Top
Last reviewed/updated on
9/24/2007