NPSTC Reactivates 4.9 GHz Working Group, Compares FCC Recommendations
Monday, March 26, 2018 | Comments

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) reactivated its 4.9 GHz working group following the FCC's sixth further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) last week. Dave Buchanan will chair the group, formed under the NPSTC Spectrum Committee.

NPSTC said the FNPRM endorses much of the input from the NPSTC 4.9 GHz national plan recommendation in 2013. In a comparison table, NPSTC said the proposed rules follow its recommendations to provide more rigorous frequency coordination and site-based licensing. The new rules also allow narrowband traffic as a primary service on 1-megahertz channels for point to point and point to multipoint. NPSTC had recommended primary service on 1-megahertz channels for backhaul. The proposed rules also allow 5 megahertz for manned airborne and robotics.

For channel aggregation, NPSTC had recommended leaving the current rule of 20 megahertz maximum, but the proposed rules allow 40 megahertz maximum although Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) can limit aggregation to 20 megahertz. NPSTC recommended that eligibility of the spectrum be expanded to critical industries infrastructure (CII) but not commercial use.

The new FNPRM questions whether the band should be expanded to CII, private, commercial and leasing eligibility. In his comments on the proposal, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said the spectrum should be redesignated for commercial use.

Finally, NPSTC recommended a national 4.9 GHz band plan with RPC coordination option on some issues. The FCC proposed regional flexibility on some issues with a window to file plans.

Public-safety agencies have expressed frustration with the 4.9 GHz band because current rules allow geographically based licensing with little documentation on system design and transmitter location. Agencies contemplating new service in this band cannot determine if other agencies in their area might cause harmful interference. While current licensing rules provide for geographical sharing of the band among different agencies, the lack of licensing detail invites the potential for conflict and interference. Law enforcement and fire/rescue agencies also need dedicated channels to support aerial devices, bomb robots and other specialized applications, all of which require broadband channels for video and data, the 2013 NPSTC report said.

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