FCC Grants Michigan Request to Allow Utility to Use 800 MHz Public-Safety System
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 | Comments

The FCC granted a request from the Michigan Department of Telecommunications Management and Budget asking for a waiver to share use of the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) with Consumer’s Energy.

Under FCC rules, 800 MHz licensees, such as Michigan, may enter into non-profit sharing agreements with other entities, but entities entering into those agreements must be eligible to be licensed for public-safety frequencies. Consumer’s Energy, a gas and electric utility provider with a footprint across Michigan’s lower peninsula, is not eligible for licensing on public-safety spectrum so a waiver was needed.

The FCC noted that it has previously granted other requests from Michigan to allow critical infrastructure providers to share the MPSCS frequencies to achieve enhanced coverage, capacity and interoperability. Because each waiver is based on specific facts of each case, the FCC requires that each provider that seeks access to the network file a separate waiver request.

The commission determined that as with previous requests, Michigan had demonstrated that it has adequate spectrum to accommodate the planned sharing of the network with Consumer’s Energy. It also found that the state had demonstrated that Consumer’s Energy would fund the construction of additional infrastructure using 800 MHz business/industrial land transportation (BILT) category frequencies to mitigate its impact on the MPSCS network.

The FCC said that the shared use will improve the ability of public safety and Consumer’s Energy to communicate with one another and coordinate power restoration in times of emergency. Additionally, the FCC said, the sharing arrangement will be on a cost-shared, non-profit basis, conforming to FCC rules.

Find the full order here.

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