For all the rhetoric that Congress puts out regarding the benefits our first responders provide us and yet they cannot authorize the transfer of D-block spectrum directly to first responders. Such an allocation would go a long way to innovating and improving communications between multiple jurisdictions. Do we have to see another terrorist attack for the point to be driven home? Should failure of the Joint Special Committee for Deficit Reduction be an excuse for not transferring the D-block?
President Obama’s American Jobs Plan calls for the creation of a Public Safety Broadband Corporation. This not-for-profit, non-political organization will hold the 700 Mhz D-block spectrum and deploy and manage a broadband network for our nation’s first responders and public safety agencies.
I have reservations about this corporation. My first reaction was, “Is this the broadband version of the Federal Reserve?“
Specifically, the corporation will “hold the single public safety wireless license granted under section 281 (of the Act) and take all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a secure and resilient nationwide public safety interoperable broadband network …“
There have been two schools of thought on the public safety issue. One school, in which I belong, says that wee ought to just transfer the D-block to public safety and allow local and state governments to enter into the necessary inter-jurisdictional agreements and construction contracts necessary for deploying this network.
I guess the Obama administration is concerned that since such a network will cross a bunch of state lines that they should determine who will receive the spectrum. They may also be thinking that, like September 11, 2001, an event that calls for the use of a nationwide public safety network will be a national event. Maybe. Maybe not.
Even an event as catastrophic as September 11 was mostly local in terms of emergency response. In addition, its been ten years and if the federal government hasn’t provided us with a nationwide broadband network, maybe it’s time for local and state public safety agencies to run with this.
Sometimes its better to give than receive. The Phoenix Center’s recent recommendation that it would be better for the FCC to give away the D-block to public safety organizations makes sense.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the premise to bolster the ability of our first responders to communicate with each other, especially inter-agency and across jurisdictional lines? In addition, aren’t public safety budgets pretty strapped?
I know the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act provides for a $1 billion grant program to assist public safety agencies in acquiring, deploying, or training in the use of interoperable communications systems that use reallocated public safety spectrum. The convoluted FCC public-private partnership and auction plan that comes along with it just adds an unnecessary hurdle to an idea that seems pretty straight forward.
Localities have a pretty good idea about what they need. Give them the spectrum and then let them solicit the technical help for building it on their own.