New FCC Commissioner Simington Says He Wants to Be an Ally to Public Safety
Wednesday, March 03, 2021 | Comments

New FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington said he wants to be an ally and advocate for public safety and emphasized the importance of regulatory certainty for public safety.

“We identify things that work, we don’t continue pouring resources in things that don’t work, but we also establish certainty so that once something is committed to, it can be a long-term commitment,” Simington said, explaining his vision for his work at the FCC during a webinar hosted by the Public-Safety Broadband Technology Alliance (PSBTA).

As an example, Simington pointed out the National Emergency Address Database (NEAD), which he said seemed like a good idea at the time it was established as a way to help first responders respond to emergencies in buildings. However, the location accuracy facilities of devices improved much more quickly than expected and the FCC and its partners moved forward without the NEAD, Simington said.

Providing regulatory certainty ensures that public-safety organizations can ensure that the equipment and training they are investing in will still be usable moving into the future.

Simington also said it is important for the FCC and the spectrum community to determine what public-safety applications need dedicated spectrum and which can be used on commercial spectrum.

“I would love to see public safety establish a secure berth in the spectrum system, the system of allocating wavelengths, for systems where commercial spectrum and devices aren’t the appropriate answer,” Simington said. “On the other hand, the counterpressure to this is going to come from the heavy usage that is expected from any commercialization of current public-safety spectrum. It requires a broad-based national and industrial consensus, in my view, about what the appropriate and location of an allotment for public safety should be.”

Once that consensus is established, the FCC can determine which spectrum needs to be reserved for specific public-safety uses and which spectrum can be used for other public-safety uses alongside commercial uses, Simington said. “Then, we can cease the churn, allow vendors to have predictability on delivering the goods and let them scale up in production and improve their models.”

In terms of interactions with regulators, Simington said that he loves seeing stakeholders reach out to regulators but thinks it’s also the responsibility of regulators to reach out and connect with stakeholders, such as public safety.

“There’s the responsibility that rests with regulators to go out and engage with communities that tend to spend their time solving problems and not lobbying,” he said.

In response to a question about other stakeholders that public-safety organizations should reach out and work with, Simington said it is good for public safety to reach out to commercial entities.

“I think the answer is very often the commercial community who on one hand needs to know what interests they might be impinging on with their actions and what compromises need to be made,” he said.

Simington previously served as a senior adviser for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and said he wants to act as a liaison and advocate for public safety.

“It’s clear I should think given the catastrophes that are facing us today, that public safety should be on the national front burner,” said Simington.

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