FCC Proposes Allowing Commercial, Utility Users to Lease 4.9 GHz Spectrum
Tuesday, September 08, 2020 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the commission will consider a report and order that would allow states to lease 4.9 GHz spectrum to commercial entities and electric utilities at its September board meeting.

The FCC has been looking at repurposing the 4.9 GHz spectrum, arguing that the spectrum is currently underused. In 2002, the FCC designated 50 megahertz of contiguous spectrum in the band specifically for public-safety use.

In his overview of the meeting agenda, Pai said that currently only about 3.5% percent of potential licensees are using the spectrum. Pai attributed the lack of use to the licensing framework for the band. Public-safety licensees can use their spectrum only for public-safety purposes, with no exclusivity, and have to share the band by ad-hoc coordination to avoid interference.

“This market driven path will protect public-safety incumbent operations while providing states the flexibility to use the spectrum to boost wireless broadband, improve critical infrastructure monitoring, or facilitate new public-safety use cases that meet the unique challenges and geographies of each state,” Pai wrote.

Pai said the commission will also release a further notice that proposes a new state-based licensing regime for public-safety operations in the 4.9 GHz bands.

Public-safety leaders recently created a group called the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance with the goal of preserving the 4.9 GHz spectrum for public-safety use. The group has urged the FCC to give the spectrum to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) so that it can be used to meet future public-safety 4G and 5G needs.

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