The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) has filed an ex parte letter urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide business critical entities access to the 4.9 GHz band noting that the record at the FCC already supports primary Critical Infrastructure Industry (CII) access to this band. Allowing CII primary access to the 4.9 GHz band would provide these users with a spectrum tool to support high-capacity broadband requirements free from the internet.
CII entities deliver vital services to the American public and require secure, reliable, robust systems utilizing state-of-the-art broadband technology. While commercial systems are appropriate for certain of their applications and narrowband systems continue to address other requirements, recent events have highlighted their need for private broadband networks that are not tied to the internet. No system can be entirely immune from the possibility of being hacked, but the recent Colonial Pipeline situation and the many other cybersecurity incidents in recent years have shone a bright light on the vulnerability of systems that can be accessed through the internet.
The FCC’s decision to assign 4.9 GHz spectrum management responsibility to the states and to authorize leasing of the spectrum would have provided one approach whereby CII and other eligible entities might have secured operating rights. EWA supported that spectrum access opportunity. However, the recently adopted stay of that decision now provides an opportunity for the Commission to consider other approaches that might yield appropriate and expanded usage of the band. In its filing, EWA reminded the Commission that the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) had endorsed CII access to two 5 MHz channels on a shared, co-primary basis with public safety agencies years ago in its proposed National Plan for the band. EWA urged the Commission to ensure that the final rules in this proceeding support the opportunity for CII to access this critical band.