Published: March 4, 2021
By: Emily Wood
BATON ROUGE, La. – A task force has recommended that the state auction part of a high-speed internet spectrum to service providers and businesses instead of using it only for public safety.
The high-speed spectrum could provide faster internet access to rural communities in Louisiana and expand the technological infrastructure in those areas. It also could ease the digital divide between residents who have access to broadband and those who do not.
The Federal Communications Commission allocated 50 megahertz of the high-speed internet spectrum, the 4.9 GHz spectrum, to Louisiana.
The FCC initially allowed the 4.9 GHz spectrum to be used for public safety purposes, but only about 3.5% of the available licenses have been used. So last September, the commission expanded the possible uses of the band.
The Louisiana task force has met three times since then, debating whether it could allow business and consumer use of some of the spectrum without hampering public safety.
Firefighters and police officers around the state expressed concern that public usage of the spectrum could overload the bandwidth, causing miscommunication in an emergency.
During the final task force meeting last week, Michael Renatza, executive director of the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, testified that he and task force members were able to come to an agreement regarding the allocation of the bandwidth.
Read more at kalb.com