FCC to Open Up 4.9 GHz Band


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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai hopes to make more use of the 4.9 GHz band. In fact, the rarely-used band is emerging as one of the next big spectrum focuses of the Commission.

The agency designated 50 MHz of contiguous spectrum in that band for public safety use in 2002, but it hasn’t been used as much as the Commission first hoped, Pai writes in a blog. “Based on the feedback we received from the public safety community, we’ve developed new proposals to promote greater public safety use of the 4.9 GHz band and incentivize investment in new technologies,” says the Chairman. It’s one of the items up for a vote at the FCC’s March 22 meeting.

The Commissioners also plan to tackle the problem of misrouted 911 calls. Most 911 calls are from cell phones. Now, those calls are routed to 911 call centers based on the location of the tower that handles the call. But when the calls are placed near a county or city border, the nearest cell tower may be in a neighboring jurisdiction. That means the calls need to be transferred to first responders in another jurisdiction.

During a visit to the Washington, D.C. Office of Unified Communications (OUC), Pai learned the OUC received about 10,000 misrouted 911 calls last year. Those had to be transferred to Maryland authorities (and many thousands of calls received in Maryland were transferred into the District). “Technology now can help route calls to the correct call center without the need for a transfer,” says Pai. He’s asking his colleagues to help launch an inquiry to figure out how widespread the problem is. The FCC wants to know how it can ensure “that 911 calls are routed based on the location of the caller as opposed to the location of the cell tower that handles that call,” adds the Chairman.

March 6, 2018        

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