Public safety spectrum update: Revenge of Cyren Call

by on October 8, 2007 · 2 comments

In my comments to the FCC in the 700 MHz proceeding, I addressed the Commission’s insistence that the licensee of a national public safety spectrum license be a non-profit entity. At the time I said,

This is odd since there are several commercial communications companies with the comparative advantage and expertise in designing, building-out, and maintaining wireless broadband networks. A for-profit mission and quality service to first responders should not be considered mutually exclusive ideals.

The Commission’s 312-page final order cited my comment, but sadly as an example of the sort of proposal they weren’t going to adopt. Instead, they decided that they would create a license for 10 MHz of public safety spectrum (worth billions) and give it to a Public Safety Broadband Licensee. And who is the Public Safety Broadband Licensee? They have no idea, but in the Order they lay out the requirements for any entity who wishes to apply to be the Public Safety Broadband Licensee. These include,

  1. No commercial interest may be held in the licensee, nor may any commercial interest participate in the management of the licensee
  2. The entity must be non-profit
  3. The entity must be “broadly representative of the public safety radio user community”

Well, applications to be the Public Safety Broadband Licensee are due this Wednesday, and so far there’s only one applicant, an organization called the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corporation (sorry, no website). If they are chosen as the Licensee, the PSST will help set the public safety requirements any bidder will have to satisfy in order to purchase the commercial-public safety shared D Block that will be auctioned in January. (Frontline has committed to bid, while Verizon has also shown an interest.) So who makes up the PSST? According to their recent press release,

The PSST Board of Directors is comprised of representatives of the following organizations: the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO); the Forestry Conservation Communications Association (FCCA); the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP); the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA); the National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials (NASEMSO); the National Emergency Number Association (NENA); and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA).

That is, the lobbying groups for public safety. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of the lobbyists themselves potentially getting a license. Also, these groups supported the Cyren Call plan last year to reallocate spectrum from commercial to public safety use. Guess who they chose last week to be their “Public Safety Advisor“?

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