The chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau today stressed the importance of the 4.9 gigahertz band being widely utilized, which she stressed that it hasn’t so far. Last month, Republican FCC Commissioners emphasized the potential benefit of repurposing the band for commercial purposes, or at least opening it up to additional usage, citing the fact that the spectrum has not been heavily used since the Commission made it available for public safety agencies in 2002 (TR Daily, March 22).
Their comments came as Commissioners unanimously adopted a sixth further notice of proposed rulemaking in WP docket 07-100 seeking views on ways to promote more intensive use of the 4940-4990 megahertz band.
During luncheon remarks this afternoon at the annual meeting of the Land Mobile Communications Council, Lisa Fowlkes said that “public safety’s use of the 4.9 GHz band has fallen short of its potential. The further notice seeks ways to reverse this trend.”
Among the options the FCC is seeking comments on are extending use of the band to utilities are repurposing it for commercial use, she noted. “But let me be clear: all options for this band are on the table, except … for the option of allowing underutilization of the band to continue,” she said. “It is important that we hear from the LMCC and its members on the proposals and options.”
On another spectrum issue, Ms. Fowlkes cited progress that has been seen in the realignment of the 800 MHz band, noting that it has come down to rebanding along the U.S. border with Mexico.
“After many years 800 MHz rebanding is finally, truly close to completion,” she said to laughter, adding that “tangible progress” has been seen on both sides of the border in the past year.
“Another issue that we know LMCC is concerned about is the proliferation of possibly unauthorized, low cost, two-way radios on public safety and other land mobile channels,” she said. “These radios, imported from Asia and sold on the Internet, raise compliance issues and could potentially interfere with narrowband operations as well as undermine interoperability. We have brought this issue to the attention of our Enforcement Bureau.”- Paul Kirby, email@example.com