FCC Proposes Nationwide Broadband Public-Safety Network (12/20)
Monday, January 01, 2007 | Comments

The FCC adopted a proposal for a national interoperable broadband 700 MHz network for public-safety professionals. The initiative takes many ideas laid out in the Cyren Call Communications proposal filed with the FCC in 2006; however, it would not allocated new spectrum to public safety as in the Cyren Call proposal. Cyren Call had suggested that 30 megahertz of spectrum currently slated for auction be given to public safety instead, which would require a congressional mandate. The FCC proposal does promote the deployment of advanced broadband applications, related radio technologies, and IP-based system architecture.



"I believe this proposal could offer many public safety benefits," said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. "Many national and local public safety organizations have expressed support for a public-private partnership approach for a single, national licensee to achieve an interoperable public-safety broadband network in the context of other public safety proposals."



The FCC said the proposals are designed to meet the following public-safety objectives:


1. Opportunities for broadband, national, interoperable use of 700 MHz spectrum;


2. New sources of funding for building and operating a national public-safety network;


3. Economies of scale and scope in production and competition


4. Efficient spectrum use;


5. Network robustness and survivability; and


6. Flexible, IP-based wireless system architecture.



Specifically, the ninth notice of proposed rulemaking proposes that the commission:


1. Allocate 12 megahertz of the 700 MHz public safety spectrum from wideband to broadband use;


2. Assign this spectrum nationwide to a single national public safety broadband licensee;


3. Permit the national public safety broadband licensee also to operate on a secondary basis on the narrowband public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz band;


4. Permit the licensee to use its assigned spectrum to provide public-safety entities with voluntary access to a public-safety broadband service on a fee-for-service basis;


5. Permit the licensee to provide unconditionally pre-emptible access to its assigned spectrum to commercial service providers on a secondary basis, through leases or in the form of public/private partnerships;


6. Facilitate the shared use of CMRS infrastructure to provide public-safety broadband service; and


7. Establish performance requirements for interoperability, build-out, preemption of commercial access, and system robustness.



Because public safety will not get additional spectrum under the proposal as it has been promoting, the rulemaking met with tepid response from public-safety communications leaders. APCO International President Wanda McCarley said: "We will carefully review and provide comment on this latest FCC proposal, but it will not diminish the critical need for additional public-safety spectrum for broadband communications. We continue to strongly support efforts to allocate additional 700 MHz band spectrum for public safety, including a proposal to reallocate 30 megahertz of spectrum now slated for auction and assign it instead to a Public Safety Broadband Trust."

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