Emergency Responder Groups, Municipal Associations, and Telecom Companies Ask FCC to Keep 4.9 GHz for Public Safety Use Only

By B.N. Frank

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was labelled a “captured agency” because it has a long and colorful history of NOT protecting Americans from the telecom industry (see 1, 2).  This has led to numerous complaints against it as well as lawsuits (see 1, 2, 3).  Occasionally even FCC commissioners question its motivations which is what happened earlier this month before the agency voted in favor of taking control of the internet.  Ay carumba!  Nevertheless, various groups are again trying to stop the agency from putting the public in harm’s way.

From Inside Towers:

Emergency Response Group Urges FCC to Retain 4.9 GHz for Public Safety Use

Several first responder organizations that need emergency communications, as well as T-Mobile, UScellular, Verizon, and the Competitive Carriers Association, formed a coalition to persuade the FCC to retain the 4.9 GHz band for public safety use. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Edison Electric Institute are also members of the new Coalition for Emergency Response and Critical Infrastructure (CERCI).

CERCI has told the Commission the 4.9 GHz band is “essential” spectrum for current and future state, local, and public safety systems. Members note in a filing that the FCC recently confirmed the band “must retain its locally controlled, public safety nature.” CERCI emphasizes that use of the 4.9 GHz band “should be limited to critical infrastructure industry systems operating on a non-interfering basis.”

The Commission’s 4.9 GHz Order adopted earlier this year created a framework for non-public-safety, non-interfering, leased access to the 4.9 GHz band while retaining local control by public safety licensees, Inside Towers reported. It adopted a nationwide band manager approach to coordinate all 4.9 GHz band operations and facilitate leasing arrangements.

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The accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on the band manager’s specific role: Under “Model 1,” the band manager would lease spectrum access rights from public safety licensees and then sublease access to that spectrum to its choice of non-public safety entities. Under “Model 2,” public safety licensees would engage in lease arrangements directly with non-public safety entities and the band manager would coordinate and approve the leases.

CERCI tells the FCC it supports Model 2, which it says “is the only approach that maintains true local control of this vital public safety band while enabling critical infrastructure industry opportunities in the band. Applying Model 2, all public safety licensees will approve spectrum leases that could affect their licenses or operations. The band manager will be responsible for implementing the Commission’s coordination and leasing rules to preserve local control of public safety operations in the band.”

In contrast, according to the coalition, Model 1 would remove public safety licensees’ authority to make their own decisions about communications systems in the 4.9 GHz band within their jurisdictions. Public safety agencies have vastly different needs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and they should decide what compatible non-public-safety use means within their jurisdictions, CERCI notes.

CERCI urged the Commission to reject the position of the Public Safety Alliance, which proposes the agency to issue a nationwide license to FirstNet and direct the agency to select a nationwide band manager. “This approach in effect would end local public safety choice and control in the band, as AT&T’s FirstNet network would expand into the 4.9 GHz band to the detriment of public safety,” says CERCI. “It would force existing local public safety operations off the band and would give AT&T’s commercial and FirstNet customers exclusive access to the band, akin to how Band 14 is currently utilized.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

Activist Post reports regularly about the FCC and privacy invasive and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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