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Spectrum

Systematic Procedures Could Result in Public Licensees Getting Spectrum Rights Stripped

Jericho Casper

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Photo of air force radio frequency transmissions technician by Phil Speck used with permission

July 21, 2020 — The Federal Communications Commission has been undergoing a massive effort to convert additional spectrum to be used by mobile carriers or in unlicensed wi-fi operations, repurposing radio spectrum from operators utilizing it in the 6 GigaHertz (GHz) band, the 4.9 GHz band and TV White Spaces.

As a result, a decreasing amount of spectrum is available for public operations, such as transportation, natural resource management, national defense and law enforcement operations.

Government and public agencies have unique needs for wireless technology and communications, which require spectrum, to reach their full potential.

In a Tuesday webinar during the 2020 Wireless Communications in Transit Virtual Conference, Alan Tilles, an attorney and counsel member at the Government Wireless Technology and Communications Association, detailed his personal attempts to help operators retain their spectrum.

GWTCA attempts to represent the interests of transit and other government workers in their fight to hold spectrum by collaborating with stakeholders and ensuring access to spectrum for all wireless technologies, while recognizing the specific needs of public transit, public service and public safety.

According to Tilles, systemic procedures often result in companies getting their spectrum licenses stripped. If companies aren’t paying attention, they may not comply with current licensing regulation, which is crucial.

“FCC license renewal notifications are a courtesy, not a requirement,” Tilles said.

Construction rules and use requirements also frequently get in the way, Tilles noted, and just one year off air results in the automatic cancellation of a license.

Barry Einsig, principal at Econolite and board member of EROAD USA, explained how limited spectrum is the result of increased access to smart phones, which has increased consumers’ desire to broadcast and raised spectrum demands for carriers and wireless providers.

Einsig works to promote spectrum retainment and utilization in transportation. Econolite, a company which utilizes spectrum to create safer driving conditions, promises to deliver solutions that ease traffic congestion, provide safer mobility and improve the quality of life for the driving public.

Tilles and Einsig agreed that the industry should protect existing spectrum licenses when considering future needs.

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