Today the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA) filed a response to the May 10, 2024 letter  from the Coalition for Emergency Response and Critical Infrastructure (“CERCI”). 

The PSSA has repeatedly urged the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or  “Commission”) to adopt a nationwide framework for the 4.9 GHz band—one that both addresses  the gross under-utilization of the band as well as provides the First Responder Network Authority  (“FirstNet Authority”) with the ability to comply with its statutory mandate to create a nationwide  interoperable public safety network that meets the life-saving, mission-critical technological needs  of first responders.  

CERCI’s approach is wrong from top to bottom: its legal analysis is unsound, and its proposal for  the use of the 4.9 GHz band would perpetuate the band’s chronic under-utilization and  balkanization. Congress was crystal clear that it would not limit the FirstNet Authority’s ability to  build a nationwide interoperable public safety network to a single generation of technology or  spectrum band—especially given the evolving nature of technology in general, and mobile  technology in particular. Instead, Congress mandated that the FirstNet Authority have the ability  to evolve the public safety broadband network to address the communications requirements of first  responders. And, pursuant to that mandate, Congress supplemented the FCC’s already broad  authority over spectrum and public safety by giving the Commission the ability to help the FirstNet  Authority fulfill that statutory obligation.  

CERCI’s incorrect conclusions that the Commission may not authorize the FirstNet Authority’s  use of the 4.9 GHz band (or any band outside of the 700 MHz band) and that the FirstNet  Authority cannot operate in the 4.9 GHz band is irreconcilable with the relevant statutory  framework, the Commission’s rules, and the history of the 4.9 GHz band. 

The PSSA’s proposal to permit the FirstNet Authority to enter into a leasing agreement to use the  4.9 GHz band offers the chance to dramatically increase utilization of and lower costs for the  band in a manner that is well-grounded in existing statutory authority. Maintaining the status quo  will not benefit public safety, and it risks perpetuating communications silos that make public  safety coordination a challenge during daily and operationally critical incidents. 

As the PSSA has proposed, the Commission can further increase utilization of the band and lower  equipment costs for public safety licensees, as well as fulfill its requirements under the 2012 Act,  by providing for a leasing agreement between the band manager and the FirstNet Authority.  

The PSSA’s proposal is the logical extension of what the Commission has contemplated to  address the under-utilization of the 4.9 GHz band and facilitate first responders’ access to 5G on  a nationwide basis.


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