EWA Suggests Making APCO National Band Coordinator for 4.9 GHz Band
Thursday, June 23, 2022 | Comments

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) recommended to the FCC that should it make the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International the national band manager for the 4.9 GHz spectrum.

“The eighth further notice of proposed rulemaking in this proceeding suggests a number of approaches for revisiting the regulatory structure of the band that in the FCC’s words, ‘could spur innovation, improve coordination and drive down costs… ’” the EWA said in an ex parte letter to the FCC. “Having reviewed the options carefully, EWA is persuaded that the FCC should designate the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, Inc. as the nationwide frequency coordinator/band manager with responsibility for developing a 4.9 GHz regulatory framework and overseeing an orderly process for licensing with input from the other FCC-certified public-safety frequency advisory committees.”

The 4.9 GHz band is currently dedicated to public-safety use but for many years, the FCC has been looking at ways to increase use of what it has described as an underused band. In 2020, the FCC adopted a framework that would have allowed states to license spectrum in the band to non-public-safety entities.

After that framework met opposition from public safety, the FCC vacated the order and released the further notice of proposed rulemaking looking at ways to protect public safety use of the band while promoting increased use of the band.

One proposed method that has merited a lot of discussion in the proceeding is whether or not a national band manager should be appointed to manage the band. Several groups have advocated assigning the band to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), while others have voiced opposition to the FirstNet Authority serving as the band manager.

In its ex parte letter, the EWA argued that there is already a “broad consensus” among public safety on how the spectrum should be optimized. Additionally, the EWA said that APCO has years of experience providing frequency coordination for a variety of system types and configurations within public-safety.

“In EWA’s opinion, there is no need to look beyond this established coordinator of public-safety spectrum in selecting an entity optimally suited for this role,” the EWA’s letter said. “Working in collaboration with the governing bodies of the other FACs, a formidable spectrum policy development and management structure is already in place.”

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