PSSA Asks FCC to Withdraw 4.9 GHz Leasing Proposal
Monday, September 21, 2020 | Comments

The Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA) asked the FCC to withdraw a report and order that would allow states to lease 4.9 GHz spectrum to commercial entities, utilities and other from consideration for its Sept. 30 meeting.

In its place, the PSSA requested that the commission expand its seventh notice of proposed rulemaking on the band to fully vet and solicit public-safety input on the issues surrounding 4.9 GHz. Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the commission would consider the report and order at its Sept. 30 meeting. The FCC has been looking at ways to increase use of the band, which was given to public safety in 2002, arguing that the band is currently underused.

In its ex parte filing to the FCC, the PSSA contended that the under use was not due to a lack of interest into the band but instead the regulatory framework governing the band and argued that allowing states to regulate the band would lead to issues for public safety.

“We believe that the order represents an unprecedented abdication of one of the commission’s core responsibilities: the management of non-federal spectrum, including spectrum used by non-federal public-safety agencies,” the filing said. “We respectfully disagree that the commission spectrum management duties should be delegated to each individual state, especially when the states lack the commission’s expertise, especially with respect to addressing interference concerns. Given that first responders are the spectrum users most likely to suffer interference, the nation cannot afford for the 4.9 GHz band to serve as the laboratory for an untested and suspect spectrum management experiment.”

The group also noted that while the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) has helped satisfy some public-safety needs for communications, public safety will still need more spectrum for new technologies such as 5G.

“This is particularly so as public-safety communications begin to transition to 5G, which is reliant on mid-band spectrum such as the 4.9 GHz band, as well as high band, and ultra-high band spectrum for operations,” the filing said. “Currently, the 4.9 GHz band is the only mid-band spectrum available and dedicated to public-safety operations. Removing this from dedicated public-safety use could impact public safety’s ability to timely migrate to 5G operations.”

The PSSA has urged the FCC to give the band to the FirstNet Authority to help provide for public-safety’s future spectrum needs.

“Specifically, we believe the commission should use history as a guide and leverage the FirstNet Authority and the governance model it has implemented as directed by Congress and the support of this commission, as a true example of a successful implementation of spectrum for use by public safety,” the filing said. We have a working model and have seen what has failed in the past. Public safety communications are too important to subject them to an untested experiment in spectrum management.”

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