Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

FCC Opens More Spectrum for Public Safety Communications

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

FCC Opens More Spectrum for Public Safety Communications

Article excerpt

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last week 5-0 to open 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 4940-4990 MHz band for use by public safety agencies. NLC, in conjunction with other national associations, submitted comments on behalf of local governments that called for greater spectrum allocations,

In addition to making it easier for emergency workers from different jurisdictions to communicate with each other, the spectrum can support such services as monitoring vital signs of rescuers, sending live video images of emergency scenes to command posts outside the areas or downloading floor plans directly to rescuers inside a building.

The FCC stressed the rules' flexibility, including the extent to which they encouraged public safety licensees to work with nontraditional public safety operators such as utilities to implement systems.

The order took a geographic licensing approach, which means licensees will be authorized to operate in areas over which they have jurisdiction. Each can use all 50 MHz in that jurisdiction.

The commission adopted NLC's approach, which called for limited eligibility for the use of the band to entities providing public safety services, defined as protecting the safety of life, health or property and provided by state or local government agencies or private companies authorized by a government public safety agency. It stipulated that the provider couldn't make those services commercially available to the public.

Those requirements are designed to ensure public safety entities have immediate and reliable access to spectrum without risk of harmful interference or congestion. …

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