Thursday, April 9, 2009

FCC Seeks to Expand First Responders' Use of Broadband

The FCC adopted new new rules to expand and enhance first responders' deployment of broadband communication technologies across the nation in the 4.9 GHz band. The action is aimed at stimulating the economy while also better enable first responders to more easily share time-sensitive data and streaming video footage in emergencies or life-threatening incidents.

Under the Order, the FCC granted primary status to:

(1) 4.9 GHz stand-alone, permanent fixed links that are used to deliver broadband service (such as a fixed video surveillance link used to monitor high-risk facilities or environments), and

(2) permanent fixed links that connect 4.9 GHz base and mobile stations used to deliver broadband service (for such uses as supporting
broadband communications at 'hot-spots" and other fixed public safety broadband networks), as well as connect other public safety networks using spectrum designated for broadband use.

The FCC said it took these actions in order to provide public safety with additional operational flexibility to use the 4.9 GHz band during emergencies and disasters and better enable first responders to share crucial data in their efforts to assist those in need and save lives.
The Order retained the current requirement for individual site-based licensing for all permanent fixed stations. The Commission, however, 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 regulated by Part 15 of the Commission's rules.

To further enhance public safety communications, the Commission preserved paging operations in the VHF public safety band, and clarified that cross-band repeaters are permitted forall public safety systems.

Additionally, the Commission sought comment on whether to: (1) further amend its rules to reinstate an exemption of 4.9 GHz band applications from certified frequency coordination requirements; (2) impose a more formal 'licensee-to-licensee" coordination requirement on primary
fixed stations in the 4.9 GHz band; (3) correct and clarify the 4.9 GHz band plan regarding which center frequencies may be licensed when aggregating multiple channels into larger bandwidths; and (4) implement three 'clean-up" amendments to Section 90.20 of the Commission's rules relating to the Public Safety Pool Frequency Table and associated limitations.

"By clarifying that 4.9 GHz fixed links that connect base and mobile stations used to deliver broadband services are afforded primary status under our rules, the Commission is promoting more intensive use of the spectrum for broadband applications in the band. This, in
turn, will provide first responders with greater ability to use emerging broadband technologies to share crucial broadband data and thereby assist those in need, address emergency situations and disasters, and save lives," stated acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps.


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