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On May 27, the FCC stayed the Sixth Report and Order (R&O) relating to the 4.9 GHz spectrum. The Sixth R&O was adopted in September 2020 and permits “one statewide 4.9 GHz band licensee per state to lease some or all of its spectrum rights to third parties—including commercial and public safety users—in those states that the FCC has not identified as a diverter of 911 fees.”  

Of the order, the FCC said petitioners “have raised significant questions” about the item “that may need to be considered further.” The vote to stay the Sixth R&O relating to the 4.9 GHz spectrum was 3-1, with Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel, Commissioners Starks and Simington supporting and FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr dissenting.

The IAFC applauds the FCC’s decision to stay this 4.9 GHz order. The IAFC has engaged with the FCC on multiple occasions requesting that the Sixth R&O relating to the 4.9 GHz spectrum be vacated. The IAFC repeatedly met with FCC Commissioners and Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s staff. The IAFC also submitted comments and reply comments to the FCC opposing this R&O and submitted comments to the FCC supporting Petitions for Reconsideration submitted by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and Public Safety Spectrum Alliance (PSSA).

Throughout our engagement with the FCC, the IAFC has emphasized the need to keep the 4.9 GHz spectrum dedicated for public safety’s use and expressed concerns that statewide management of this spectrum would threaten cross-state interoperability and potentially create a state-by-state “patchwork” of regulations governing the 4.9 GHz spectrum band. The IAFC looks forward to continuing to work with the FCC to ensure that the 4.9 GHz spectrum remains in the hands of public safety.

Ryan Woodward is a government relations manager with the IAFC.

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