Public Safety Leaders Unveil New Alliance to Protect Public Safety 4.9GHz Spectrum

The Public Safety Broadband Technology Association announce the formation of a new alliance with the goal of protecting 4.9GHz spectrum for public safety use.

Las Vegas, Nev. (Aug 5, 2020) – Today, the Public Safety Broadband Technology Association (PSBTA) in partnership with other associations and public safety leaders announce that they have formed the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA). The Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA) is an alliance amongst the nation’s leading public safety leaders and associations. According to their spokesman Chief Kim Zagaris the alliance was formed to advocate for the protection of the 4.9GHz public safety spectrum currently being used by public safety nationally. “This alliance in made up of many of those who were part of the Public Safety Alliance that advocated for what became the FirstNet Authority. As we begin building our support for this program we will be working with all the public safety associations which we expect to partner with us.”

The purpose of the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance is to ensure that first responders nationwide are able to use the most technologically advanced communications capability that meets the difficult, life threatening challenges they face as they protect America. The goal of the Public Safety Spectrum Alliance is to raise awareness in the FCC, Congress and the White House about what our broadband public safety communications needs are, including use of 4.9 GHz and the continued enhancement of the FirstNet program – the only nationwide, interoperable wireless communications network built for the first responders who protect America.

In 2002, largely in response to the September 11th attacks, the Federal Communications Commission allocated fifty megahertz of nationwide spectrum in the 4940-4990 MHz band (4.9 GHz band) exclusively to public safety for fixed and mobile services. Non-traditional public safety entities and the Federal Government may enter into sharing arrangements with eligible traditional public safety entities to use the 4.9 GHz band in support of their missions regarding homeland security and protection of life and property.

Public safety is currently the license holder of 50 MHz of broadband-ready spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band. Since the successful deployment of FirstNet in 2018 the use of broadband spectrum has grown within public safety as first responders discover the reliability and capacity of FirstNet. By adding this nationwide spectrum to our network, the FirstNet Authority would ensure that public safety is able to meet its future spectrum needs.  Further, the FirstNet Authority has made 5G investments a priority of their early reinvestment decisions, which this spectrum could substantially augment.

The FCC controls what happens with the 4.9 GHz public safety spectrum. In previous actions, the Commission allocated and designated 50 megahertz of nationwide spectrum in the 4.9 GHz band to public safety. Currently, the FCC has issued the Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) to consider promoting additional activity in the 4.9 GHz band while striving to preserve the core public safety purpose of the band.

As public safety continues operationalizing their 4.9 GHz spectrum nationwide, it could leverage the prior investments made by the FirstNet Authority in our network toward 5G technologies.  The added spectrum would also provide a logical path forward for the growing demand for spectrum and preserve public safety’s ability to evolve as their need for digital communications mature.  From an economic standpoint, an entire new market for low latency high bandwidth devices and applications will emerge, allowing for greater competition, innovation and entrepreneurship.  We have seen this to be the case with the deployment of FirstNet with over 100 devices and over 100 unique applications currently available to first responders. 

The Public Safety Spectrum Alliance 3 Guiding Principles.

  • Protect and preserve 4.9 GHz nationwide spectrum for public safety use.
  • Allocate the 4.9 GHz spectrum to the FirstNet Authority on behalf of Public Safety.
  • The FirstNet Authority would be required to develop a spectrum plan for the 50 MHz of public safety spectrum at 4.9 GHz.  This plan would allow for the continued support and protection of existing public safety licensees while also allocating a portion of the spectrum for 5G technologies and potentially integrating it with the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).

The PSSA is open to anyone who supports the goals of this alliance to include individuals and the private sector. For more information go to www.thepssa.org to learn more. Please support your first responders by supporting the allocation of the 4.9 GHz block to the FirstNet Authority.

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Media Contact:

Kim Zagaris

zagaris@wfca.com

(702) 620-4900

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