700 MHz-Spectrum Use By First Responders OK’d, But Not Limited To That Use

The commission dismissed a request by the City of Charlotte, N.C., seeking guidance on the scope of permissible uses of the 700 MHz band.
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The U.S. government has ruled that current U.S. law does not prevent local governments from using 700 MHz broadband spectrum for first-responder communications, nor does it limit that spectrum to only be used as first-responder communications.

On Oct. 7, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) posted a notice on the Federal Register—Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band—saying the commission dismissed a request by the City of Charlotte, N.C., seeking guidance on the scope of permissible uses of the 700 MHz band.

The notice says, “the commission considered a request for declaratory ruling filed by Charlotte, N.C. requesting the commission clarify that ‘territories, possessions, states, counties, towns or similar state or local governmental entities that qualify as 700 MHz lessees/users have as their sole or principal purpose the protection of the safety of life, health and property and are permitted to use 700 MHz broadband spectrum for activities conducted by their personnel including, but not limited to, activities of police, fire and medical emergency first responders.’”

The commission determined that the plain language of section 337 of the Communications Act (Public Law 416) “does not support this broad presumption, and it accordingly dismissed Charlotte's request,” the notice says.

However, “there is sufficient flexibility within section 337 to encompass many of the state and local government uses of the spectrum contemplated by Charlotte” and by other local governments, or other stakeholders, the FCC said.

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