Monday, March 27, 2006

RFC: Proposals for Modifying 700 MHz Public Safety Spectrum to Accommodate Broadband Communications

In this Eighth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Eighth
NPRM), we seek comment on whether certain channels
within the current twenty-four megahertz of public
safety spectrum in the 700 MHz public safety band
(764-776 MHz and 794-806 MHz), should be modified to
accommodate broadband communications. This action is
consistent with national priorities focusing on
homeland security and broadband and our commitment to
ensure that emergency first responders have access to
reliable and interoperable communications.

Nearly a decade ago, the Commission, at the direction
of Congress, reallocated twenty four megahertz of the
700 MHz band from television broadcast services to
public safety communications services. Congress
contemplated that this spectrum would be available for
public safety use as early as December 31, 2006, or as
soon as existing TV stations vacate the spectrum as
part of the transition to digital television (DTV). In
discharging its Congressional mandate to establish
licensing and service rules for this reallocated
spectrum, the Commission established a flexible
regulatory framework for public safety use of the 700
MHz band “ to enable public safety organizations to
effectively use this new allocation for a variety of
operational modes (voice, data, image/high speed data
(hsd), and video) .” In designing this regulatory
framework, the Commission sought to balance the need
for “standardization necessary to achieve nationwide
interoperability, the development of competitive
equipment markets, and the degree of regional
flexibility necessary to allow entities the
opportunity to fashion approaches tailored to meet the
individual needs of diverse regional communities .”
Consistent with these principles, the Commission has
made great progress towards ensuring different
governmental agencies have the ability to communicate
across jurisdictions . Although in many parts of the
nation this spectrum remains unavailable for public
safety use, Congress recognized in the Intelligence
Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004
(Intelligence Reform Act) that this spectrum is
“ideal” for providing first responders with
interoperable communications channels. As part of the
Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Congress has
established February 17, 2009 as the date for the
completion of the transition from analog to digital
broadcast transmissions. Accordingly, it is imperative
that once this spectrum is cleared of incumbent
broadcasters, that the public safety community be able
to fully utilize this spectrum.

Recently Congress asked the Commission, in
consultation with the Department of Homeland Security
and the National Telecommunications Information
Administration, to undertake a study and prepare a
report assessing the short-term and long-term spectrum
needs of emergency responders, including the potential
for nationwide interoperable broadband mobile
communications networks. In the Report to Congress
submitted pursuant to Section 7502 of the Intelligence
Reform Act, it was recognized that broadband
communications applications offer the public safety
community a number of benefits, including video
surveillance, real-time text messaging and e-mail,
high resolution digital images and the ability to
obtain location and status information of personnel
and equipment in the field. The Report found that
emergency response providers would benefit from
development of an integrated, interoperable network
capable of delivering broadband services nationwide.
The Report also found that the Commission should
investigate whether some local broadband operations
could be carried out within the existing 700 MHz
public safety band.
It is our objective in this Eighth NPRM to determine
whether we should modify the public safety portion of
the 700 MHz band to accommodate broadband
communications, and if so, how. We seek to develop
policies that ensure that emergency first responders
possess the communications resources needed to
successfully carry out their mission . Broadband
technologies, which encompass high-speed digital
technologies, hold the potential to provide public
safety entities integrated access to voice and
high-speed data capabilities. A technology that can
dramatically reduce the time it takes to access
information during emergencies can mean the difference
between life and death. Accordingly, in this Eighth
NPRM, we describe the current configuration of the 700
MHz band and solicit comment on whether certain
channels within the current 700 MHz public safety band
should be modified to accommodate broadband
communications. We also discuss and seek comment on
specific band proposals offered by Lucent
Technologies, Inc. (Lucent), Motorola, Inc.
(Motorola), and the National Public Safety
Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) to rechannelize
twelve megahertz of the 700 MHz public safety band to
provide for broadband applications . In addition, we
offer parties the opportunity to update the record on
wideband interoperability issues that were raised in
the Seventh Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Seventh
NPRM) in this proceeding.

The Commission has defined “Interoperability” as “an
essential communications link within public safety and
public service wireless communications systems which
permits units from two or more different entities to
interact with one another and to exchange information
according to a prescribed method in order to achieve
predictable results.” See Development of Operational,
Technical and Spectrum Requirements for Meeting
Federal, State and Local Public Safety Agency
Communications Requirements Through the Year 2010, WT
Docket No. 96-86, First Report and Order and Third
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 14 FCC Rcd 152, 189-90
¶ 76 (1998) (First Report and Order); 47 C.F.R. §

Cybertelecom :: Federal Internet Law & Policy

A Million Voices for Darfur

Post a Comment