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Robert Primosch

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FCC rule changes boost wireless video surveillance

Due to recent rule changes by the FCC, public safety wireless broadband networks that use fixed links for video surveillance now have clearer and stronger interference protection rights in the 4940-4990 MHz (4.9 GHz) band.  Public safety entities thus have greater flexibility to conduct video surveillance (and other 4.9 GHz operations) in the most technically efficient manner possible while minimizing the risk of service interruption cause to interference to or from other users of the band.


The FCC initially set the 4.9 GHz band aside for public safety in 2002, designating the spectrum for both fixed and mobile use.  In so doing, the FCC intended to give public safety entities flexibility to use the spectrum for a variety of broadband applications such as high-speed digital technologies and wireless local area networks for incident scene management, video surveillance, dispatch operations and vehicular operations.


Until now, however, the FCC had afforded mobile use of the band “primary” status, while certain fixed point-to-point links were relegated to “secondary” status.  This meant that, unlike the case with mobile usage, fixed point-to-point links could be forced to interrupt service if they caused interference to other users in the same geographic area, and vice-versa.  The inconsistent treatment of mobile and fixed usage thus created an interference pecking order that artificially limited a public safety entity’s ability to choose the best system configuration for any given 4.9 GHz application.  It also subjected fixed usage to interference uncertainty that made public safety entities wary of using a fixed approach for mission critical operations.


The FCC has now taken a big step forward by formally extending primary status to (1) all fixed point-to-point and point-to-multipoint links that connect 4.9 GHz base and mobile stations that are used to deliver broadband service and (2) all stand-alone permanent fixed 4.9 GHz links that are used to deliver broadband service, such as a fixed video surveillance link used to monitor a high-risk target or environment.


In addition, the FCC’s rule changes included an announcement that 4.9 GHz devices will now be governed by the power measurement procedures that apply to digitally modulated unlicensed devices under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules.  As the FCC put it “such parallel treatment will allow technologies similar to those covered by Part 15 to be used in the 4.9 GHz band, and create opportunities for public safety users to benefit from speedier deployment of new technologies in this band.”


Finally, the FCC has asked for additional comment on some remaining unresolved issues, including whether it should fix an apparent error in its rules that inadvertently eliminated the 4.9 GHz band’s exemption from certified frequency coordination.  The FCC appears inclined to restore the exemption, as it would “relieve applicants from burdens and fees associated with obtaining certified frequency coordination and would . . . encourage licensees to cooperate and coordinate with each other in use of the spectrum.”  The FCC also proposes to require primary permanent fixed 4.9 GHz stations to conduct prior coordination with existing licensees, permittees and applicants in the same geographic area.


As of this writing, the FCC had not announced the specific comment dates for these matters.  The dates will be announced in the coming weeks, and will likely fall somewhere in the June-July timeframe.


Related Items:

• True Green Energy Group Reveals Live 24 Hour Video Surveillance for Worldwide Internet Observation and Construction of the New San Fernando Biosphere Green Power Plant and MRF System

• FCC designates 4.9 GHz fixed applications as primary

• WEBINAR: Lessons Learned from Wireless Video Monitoring for Dynamic Traffic Light Synchronization as part of Operation GreenLight in Lenexa (KS)


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