FCC Reworks 4.9 GHz, Keeps Public Safety as Primary Use

The FCC agreed this week to revamp the 4.9 GHz band to create a new leasing model for unused parts of the spectrum. But it will keep the band’s primary purpose for public safety use.

In a Seventh Report and Order and Ninth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission established what it calls a “comprehensive and coordinated” approach to managing the 4940-4990 MHz band while retaining its locally controlled, public safety nature. “In doing so, we solidify the band’s status as public safety spectrum, while also allowing secondary, non-public safety use as agreed to by public safety licensees through a new leasing model,” says the agency. 

Critical for the updated 4.9 GHz band is the addition of a nationwide Band Manager. The FCC says it will choose the manager based on its expertise and connections to the public safety community. The manager will coordinate band operations to ensure any non-public safety use remains secondary to, and preemptible by, public safety operations. The agency says the framework will optimize public safety use and enable the integration of the latest commercially available technologies, such as 5G.

The Seventh Report and Order also modifies FCC rules to allow the collection of granular data on public safety operations in the band. “These data, combined with a formal coordination structure performed by the Band Manager, will improve interference mitigation efforts, bolster public safety confidence in the band, and will play a crucial role in the Band Manager’s ability to find opportunities for secondary, non-public safety access,” says the Commission.

In the Ninth Further Notice, the agency seeks comment on implementing the new leasing model to achieve its goals of allowing robust locally controlled public safety operations while ensuring consistent, nationwide rules that promote overall spectral efficiency, foster innovation, and drive down equipment costs. Comments are due (to WP Docket No. 07-100) 30 days after Federal Register publication.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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