47 CFR § 90.699 - Transition of the upper 200 channels in the 800 MHz band to EA licensing.
In order to facilitate provision of service throughout an EA, an EA licensee may relocate incumbent licensees in its EA by providing “comparable facilities” on other frequencies in the 800 MHz band. Such relocation is subject to the following provisions:
(d) Comparable facilities. The replacement system provided to an incumbent during an involuntary relocation must be at least equivalent to the existing 800 MHz system with respect to the following four factors:
(1) System. System is defined functionally from the end user's point of view (i.e., a system is comprised of base station facilities that operate on an integrated basis to provide service to a common end user, and all mobile units associated with those base stations). A system may include multiple-licensed facilities that share a common switch or are otherwise operated as a unitary system, provided that the end user has the ability to access all such facilities. A system may cover more than one EA if its existing geographic coverage extends beyond the EA borders.
(2) Capacity. To meet the comparable facilities requirement, an EA licensee must relocate the incumbent to facilities that provide equivalent channel capacity. We define channel capacity as the same number of channels with the same bandwidth that is currently available to the end user. For example, if an incumbent's system consists of five 50 kHz (two 25 kHz paired frequencies) channels, the replacement system must also have five 50 kHz channels. If a different channel configuration is used, it must have the same overall capacity as the original configuration. Comparable channel capacity requires equivalent signaling capability, baud rate, and access time. In addition, the geographic coverage of the channels must be coextensive with that of the original system.
(3) Quality of service. Comparable facilities must provide the same quality of service as the facilities being replaced. Quality of service is defined to mean that the end user enjoys the same level of interference protection on the new system as on the old system. In addition, where voice service is provided, the voice quality on the new system must be equal to the current system. Finally, reliability of service is considered to be integral to defining quality of service. Reliability is the degree to which information is transferred accurately within the system. Reliability is a function of equipment failures (e.g., transmitters, feed lines, antennas, receivers, battery back-up power, etc.) and the availability of the frequency channel due to propagation characteristics (e.g., frequency, terrain, atmospheric conditions, radio-frequency noise, etc.) For digital data systems, this will be measured by the percent of time the bit error rate exceeds the desired value. For analog or digital voice transmissions, this will be measured by the percent of time that audio signal quality meets an established threshold. If analog voice system is replaced with a digital voice system the resulting frequency response, harmonic distortion, signal-to-noise ratio, and reliability will be considered.
(4) Operating costs. Operating costs are those costs that affect the delivery of services to the end user. If the EA licensee provides facilities that entail higher operating cost than the incumbent's previous system, and the cost increase is a direct result of the relocation, the EA licensee must compensate the incumbent for the difference. Costs associated with the relocation process can fall into several categories. First, the incumbent must be compensated for any increased recurring costs associated with the replacement facilitates (e.g., additional rental payments, increased utility fees). Second, increased maintenance costs must be taken into consideration when determining whether operating costs are comparable. For example, maintenance costs associated with analog systems may be higher than the costs of digital equipment because manufacturers are producing mostly digital equipment and analog replacement parts can be difficult to find. An EA licensee's obligation to pay increased operating costs will end five years after relocation has occurred.