FCC’s Pai Discusses 9-1-1 Location, T-Band at Firefighter Conference
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | Comments

During a speech at the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), FCC Chairman Ajit Pai addressed criticism about the FCC’s new location accuracy rules and also said an auction of the T-band would likely not be feasible.

In November, the FCC adopted a vertical, or Z-axis, location accuracy metric of ±3 meters relative to the handset for 80% of indoor wireless 9-1-1 calls.

Pai noted that during the FCC’s 9-1-1 location process, the commission was told that it should slow down and wait to implement a Z-axis metric for location accuracy until it could mandate a metric that was more precise than plus or minus 3 meters.

“We know that our Z-axis should improve as technology evolves,” said Pai. “And, so we’ll look at tightening the Z-axis metric over time. Ultimately, we’ll look at requiring wireless carriers to report the caller’s specific floor level. You can be sure that we will never stop aiming to improve the system to make it easier for you to do your job.”

Pai thanked the IAFF for its support of the 3 meter accuracy rules. In September, the IAFF urged the FCC to move forward with the 3-meter metric.

“And General President Harold Schaitberger was our star witness when the FCC voted on this proposal,” Pai said. “It made a real difference when he sat before the commission that day and said, ‘Three meters is achievable now, can be easily implemented … will significantly speed up response, and most importantly will save lives.’ The FCC listened, and we approved those life-saving rules.”

Pai also talked about the T-band spectrum. The legislation that created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) mandated that by 2021 the FCC auction off the T-band spectrum. With that deadline coming up public-safety stakeholders have pressed Congress and the FCC to repeal the mandate, arguing that agencies using those frequencies may struggle to replace them. “The agency has taken a hard look at the T-band,” Pai said. “And, we’ve concluded that moving forward with an auction of it wouldn’t be feasible. The costs to relocate public-safety licensees to other spectrum would probably be much higher than any potential auction revenue we’d get from companies bidding to win licenses for this spectrum.” Legislation that would preserve the T-band has been introduced in both houses of Congress and is currently pending. Would you like to comment on this story? Find our comments system below.

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