New Emission Masks for 4.9 GHz Equipment

The FCC responded to a Petition for Reconsideration filed by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) requesting technical changes to the Memorandum Opinion and Order and Third Report and Order adopting licensing and service rules for the 4940-499 MHz (4.9 GHz) band.

NPSTC requested the FCC allow two different emission masks--one for high power operations and one for low power operations. NPSTC said that the relaxed low power mask would allow use of the same technologies used in commercial-of-the-shelf equipment in adjacent bands such as the 5.4 GHz Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) unlicensed band and the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) band. The FCC agreed and in its Memorandum Opinion and Order changed the rules to allow the low power emission mask to be used for devices operating at a power of 20 dBm or less. The FCC disagreed with NPSTC's assertion that technology standards are necessary to provide roaming capability and denied its request that the FCC adopt a standard to be mandated in approximately three years.

The Memorandum Opinion and Order was steadfast in its belief that standards were not needed, stating:

"We believe that there is an insufficient record to justify adoption of technical standards that would provide interoperability in the 4.9 GHz band. Moreover, the band is likely to be used for a variety of services that do not readily lend themselves to standardization or interoperability. Thus, for example, users may consider a fixed video camera and a mobile data terminal as distinctly separate applications without a need to interoperate: the video camera cannot display data and the mobile data terminal would not normally be used to display video from the camera. Also, were we to adopt a standard, it likely would cement the 4.9 GHz band in 2004 technology such that public safety would be denied the benefits of emerging broadband technologies. Finally, even were a standard realizable in eighteen months, as NPSTC suggests, we see no point in depriving the public safety community the use of the 4.9 GHz band in the interim in the hope that a useful standard could be adopted by that time. We therefore reaffirm our determination in the Third R&O that interoperability technical standards for the 4.9 GHz band would be counterproductive."

The FCC also denied NPSTC's request that Regional Planning Committees be required. The Memorandum Opinion and Order states, "We continue to believe that the technical expertise resident in the RPCs may be quite useful to new 4.9 GHz licensees, and we encourage dialog between them. However, we have not been shown that coordination of 4.9 GHz operations will be facilitated by requiring 4.9 GHz licensees to make mandatory use of the RPCs.

Broadcasters have been watching the transfer of the 4.9 GHz spectrum to public safety use and hope that it will reduce public safety of spectrum shared with the broadcast auxiliary service.