4.9 GHz band could open up for limited commercial use

The FCC is scrutinizing the 4.9 GHz band and is seeking input on efforts to promote greater use of the band, including opening it up for commercial applications and finding ways to complement the nationwide interoperable LTE public-safety safety broadband network currently in development.

The main focus for this band is on public-safety applications. However, the commission noted it has tentatively concluded that allowing non-public safety entities to obtain licenses directly rather than having to enter into sharing arrangements with public safety licensees would remove a barrier to entry and stimulate more investment in the 4.9 GHz band.

The 4.9 GHz band consists of a contiguous block of 50 MHz located at 4940-4990 MHz. It is designated for fixed and mobile and dedicated for public safety. The FCC envisions the band being used for numerous applications, such as temporary mesh networks at emergency scenes and city-wide Wi-Fi networks for first responders. In addition, the commission said the spectrum could be used to backhaul the national 700 MHz public safety broadband network and provide wireless broadband connectivity in remote or sparsely populated locations.

"Improved use of the 4.9 GHz band will facilitate wireless local area networks for incident scene management, fixed point-point surveillance and support for dispatch operations and vehicular or personal communications," said the FCC.

In its Fifth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the topic, the FCC is soliciting public comments on whether to establish formal coordination requirements in the 4.9 GHz band and whether the public-safety 700 MHz Regional Planning Committees could administer a database registration process. Comments are also being solicited regarding whether eligibility for commercial users should be on a secondary basis subject to a shutdown feature to allow public-safety priority access and whether the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)--which will oversee the nationwide 700 MHz LTE network for public safety--is, or should be, eligible for a 4.9 GHz band license, particularly for backhaul links in support of the 700 MHz network.

The commission is also requesting input on issues such as the channel plan, power and antenna gain limits, aeronautical mobile operations and interoperability standards.

For more:
- see this RCR Wireless article
- see this Wireless Week article
- see this FCC document

Related articles:
Lawmakers think LightSquared could use military spectrum
Verizon: Refarming PCS spectrum won't be enough to meet LTE demand
Spectrum sharing: Easier said than done
CTIA embraces spectrum sharing, but sees it as second-best option
No delay here: Motorola scores $4M Texas public-safety LTE contract
700 MHz public-safety LTE network won't break ground for a year

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