On March 15, 2013, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) issued a comprehensive report on the impact of Section 6103 of Public Law 112-96, which requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reallocate the public safety T-Band spectrum and begin an auction of that spectrum no later than nine years from enactment, i.e., February 2021. Additional provisions of that section of the law require that public safety relocate out of that spectrum within two years of the auction completion.
NPSTC has developed the T-Band Update Report, dated May 31, 2016, that supplements and updates the original NPSTC T-Band Report, March 2013. NPSTC conducted a study to determine if there have been any significant changes in public safety demand for T-Band spectrum or the viability of potential relocation options. As detailed in this Update Report, only minimal numbers of public safety T-Band licenses have been cancelled or allowed to expire without renewal since the 2013 report. Also, various jurisdictions have indicated their T-Band systems and spectrum are still essential to effective communications and interoperability.
Although the FCC has released 24 reserve channels from the 700 MHz band earmarked for T-Band relocation, the number of additional channels pales in comparison to the T-Band channels in use, especially in the top five T-Band areas. Also, even though there has been progress in mission critical voice over LTE standards, much work remains to provide a viable LTE solution with coverage, guaranteed voice capacity, and local control equivalent to that of current T-Band systems. The initial focus of FirstNet for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) is to provide broadband data and imaging capabilities that are not supported on current land mobile networks. It is premature to determine whether equivalent broadband coverage would be in place and mission critical voice-over-LTE could be proven reliable in the public safety stressed environment, both key requirements to substitute the NPSBN for current T-Band operations.
While most of Public Law 112-96 is positive for public safety, Section 6103 of that law which requires auction of the T-Band spectrum will impose a negative impact on public safety communications and interoperability. In turn, this also could negatively impact the operations of public safety agencies that provide emergency response to a population of more than 90 million people in the 11 T-band areas. This Update Report addresses the area and population contained within each T-Band area that could be negatively impacted by the requirement that public safety vacate the T-Band spectrum. The T-Band Update Report details the 325 full power and class A television stations in the T-Band. It also addresses industrial/business land mobile operations that would remain in the T-Band should public safety be forced to relocate.
The updated study confirms the conclusions from the original NPSTC T-Band Report remain valid.
NPSTC is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership and is a member SAFECOM. Additional T-Band materials developed by SAFECOM can be found on the SAFECOM website.