EWA Asks FCC for Clarification on 4.9 GHz Leasing Proposal
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 | Comments

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) sent an ex parte letter to the FCC seeking more details on the commission’s proposal to allow states to lease 4.9 GHz spectrum to commercial entities, utilities and other.

Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the FCC would consider a report and order that would allow states to lease the spectrum, which was given to public safety in 2002, to commercial entities at its Sept. 30 meeting. The FCC has been looking at ways to increase usage of the band, which it says is currently underused.

Public-safety leaders have come out against the proposal and urged the FCC to withdraw the proposals. In particular, the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA) argued that the band was only underused because of the regulatory framework governing it and that it was inappropriate for the FCC to allow states to regulate the spectrum because of their lack of expertise in the area.

The EWA said that it is in favor of any approach that could lead to more intensive use of the band, but said it is not clear how the FCC intends to monitor progress of the proposed approach.

“While market forces generally drive private enterprises to maximize the value of their assets, governmental entities may not share that motivation or the time urgency that drives the marketplace,” the EWA said in its filing.

The EWA posed several questions to the FCC, including:
• Does the FCC have an end date by which states need to confirm the identity of its state lessor if it is not the single, current 4.9 GHz statewide licensee?
• Do states have a specific deadline by which they must establish a spectrum leasing process?
• Does the FCC anticipate reviewing the results of the experimental approach in a reasonable timeframe to ensure that the licensing process has performed as expected and to take further action if the band remains underused?
• How will use of the band be assessed in the absence of build-out requirements, which is the standard measurement by which spectrum usage is evaluated?
• While each state likely has regulations that require it to conduct its activities in a fair and transparent manner, does the FCC feel any need to review those processes in light of its own statutory obligations?

“Spectrum is a scarce resource,” the filing said. “While EWA appreciates the FCC’s efforts to recognize the interests of public-safety entities, it would be most unfortunate and contrary to the public interest if two decades of underutilization of 50 megahertz of spectrum turned into 3 decades or more. EWA urges the FCC to establish benchmarks and timelines to ensure that states implement processes that give all parties with a need for and commitment to deploying broadband spectrum fair access to this lease opportunity.”

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