Developed in the mid-1980s, Basic Exchange Telephone Radio
Service (BETRS) is a fixed radio service that uses a multiplexed
digital radio link as the last segment of the local loop
to provide wireless telephone service to subscribers in remote
areas where it would be impractical to provide wireline telephone
service. The wireless link allows up to four subscribers
to use a single radio channel pair simultaneously without
interfering with one another.
Licensed by the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) under the Rural Radiotelephone Service, BETRS may
be licensed only to state-certified carriers in the area where
the service is provided and is considered a part of the Public
Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by state regulators.
This service operates in the paired 152/158- and 454/459-
MHz bands and on 10 channel blocks in the 816- to 820-MHz
and 861- to 865-MHz bands. These channels are also allocated
for paging services. Since BETRS primarily serves
rural areas in the western part of the United States, it typically
does not conflict geographically with paging services.
When there is a conflict, the FCC provides a remedy Rural Radiotelephone Service and BETRS providers
obtain site licenses and operate facilities on a secondary
basis. This means that if any geographic area licensee subsequently
notifies the Rural Radiotelephone Service or
BETRS licensee that a facility must be shut down because it
may cause interference to the paging licensee’s existing or
planned facilities, the Rural Radiotelephone Service or
BETRS licensee must discontinue use of the particular channel
at that site no later than 6 months after such notice.
BETRS primarily serves rural, mountainous, and sparsely
populated areas that might not otherwise receive basic telephone
service. Although the industry has raised concerns
that auctioning spectrum for BETRS would have the effect
of raising the cost of the service, which could deprive these
areas of basic telephone service, the FCC does not distinguish
BETRS from other services that use radio spectrum to
provide commercial communication services.