• FCC Attempts to Expand First Responders' Use of Broadband Communications
  • May 8, 2009 | Authors: Jennifer L. Richter; Carly T. Didden; Jennifer A. Cetta
  • Law Firm: Patton Boggs LLP - Washington Office
  • The FCC adopted rules to help expand and enhance deployment of broadband communication technologies across the nation in the 4.9 GHz band for first responders. The FCC hopes the new rules will better enable first responders to share time-sensitive data and streaming video footage in emergencies or life-threatening incidents. The FCC:

    • granted primary status to 4.9 GHz stand-alone, permanent, fixed links that are used to deliver broadband service (e.g., fixed video surveillance link used to monitor high-risk facilities or environments);
    • granted primary status to 4.9 GHz permanent links that connect 4.9 GHz base and mobile stations used to deliver broadband service and connect public safety networks using spectrum designated for broadband use (e.g., to support broadband communications at “hot-spots” and other fixed public safety broadband networks);
    • retained the current requirement for site-based licensing for all permanent fixed stations;
    • revised the output power measurement procedures for 4.9 GHz band devices to be the same as those required for devices using digital modulation techniques;
    • retained paging operations in the VHF public safety band; and
    • clarified that cross-band repeaters are permitted for all public safety systems.

    In a Further NPRM, the FCC is seeking comment on whether to:

    • further amend its rules to reinstate an exemption of 4.9 GHz band applications from certified frequency coordination requirements;
    • impose a more formal “licensee-to-licensee” coordination requirement on primary fixed stations in the 4.9 GHz band;
    • correct and clarify the 4.9 GHz band plan regarding which center frequencies may be licensed when aggregating multiple channels into larger bandwidths; and
    • implement three “clean-up” amendments relating to the Public Safety Pool Frequency Table and associated limitations.