Discussion Draft Would Authorize Organization to Replace PSST (5/16/11)
Monday, May 16, 2011 | Comments

By Michelle Zilis
On May 13 a discussion draft began circulation in the U.S. Senate. One piece of the draft was a provision of governance that authorizes the creation of a new organization that would replace the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), said Harlin McEwen, PSST chairman.

The draft legislation proposes that Congress authorize the creation of a private, not-for-profit corporation in the District of Columbia to handle the licensing and funding for a nationwide broadband network. The organization would be called the Public Safety Broadband Corporation. The corporation would not be connected to the U.S. government or the District of Columbia government. “It is a healthy discussion,” McEwen said.

The new organization would have 15 board members; four from the federal government — the secretary of homeland security, the secretary of commerce, director of the office of management and budget, and U.S. attorney general. The secretary of commerce would appoint the 11 other nonfederal members, at least three of whom must be former or current public-safety professionals.

In an effort to avoid a design similar to public-safety voice networks, the new broadband network would hold a single, nationwide license. The network would have “local management control but would avoid some of the obstacles to interoperability seen in LMR networks,” he said.

McEwen also said it is important to change the grant process for public-safety broadband, requiring all federal money to be carefully administered and to ensure that it is distributed evenly and fairly across the country.

“I think it is generally okay,” he said. “Most public-safety professionals agree that something like this will be a requirement to manage the billions of dollars appropriated to build the network.”

McEwen made the remarks at the Cross Border Interoperability Forum held by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) May 16.

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