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Do we really need a Public Safety Broadband Corporation?

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.