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FCC seeks comments on modifying 700MHz public safety spectrum

The FCC has adopted an Eighth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) that seeks comments on whether certain channels within the 24MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band allocated for public safety use should be modified to accommodate broadband communications. The 700MHz public safety spectrum is currently being used by television broadcasters during the DTV transition but will become available for use by public safety agencies by February 18, 2009, when the DTV transition is completed.

Under a band plan adopted by the FCC in 1998, the 700MHz public safety spectrum (764-, 776MHz and 794-, 806MHz) is divided in half between narrowband channels, which allow voice and low-speed data services, and wideband channels, which allow high-speed data and slow scan video services. Within the 12MHz of paired wideband spectrum, 4.8MHz is currently designated for general use and 1.8MHz for interoperability. The remaining 5.4MHz is held in reserve for future public safety needs. General use spectrum licenses are subject to a regional planning process similar to that used in the 800MHz public safety band. Under the current rules, the individual channels within the general use and interoperability wideband segments have a bandwidth of 50kHz, and licensees can aggregate three 50kHz channels up to 150kHz.

The Notice seeks comment on three specific proposals to modify the 700MHz band plan submitted by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, Motorola, and Lucent Technologies. All three plans propose combining the general use, interoperability, and reserve wideband segments in order to permit broadband communications. The proposals also support the creation of guard bands to protect narrowband voice operations. This Notice also invites additional proposals and seeks comment on the FCC’s tentative conclusion not to alter the narrowband portions of the 700MHz public safety band.

In addition, the Notice asks commenters to provide additional input and update the record regarding wideband interoperability and the Scalable Adaptive Modulation standard in light of proposals to accommodate broadband communications.

News and other information about the FCC is available at www.fcc.gov.

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