Skip to main content

FCC Proposes Public Funding Of Emergency Communications Network

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said Thursday (Feb. 25) that
the national broadband plan will propose government funding of an interoperable
public safety communications network, and will propose giving first responders
access to the entire 700 mHz band.

That came in a briefing outlining the plan's public safety elements.

He said the interoperable public safety network would cost between $16
billion-$18 billion over the next 10 years.  The plan is due to Congress
March 17.

The FCC, under then-chairman Kevin Martin, attempted to create that network via
a public-private partnership, but was unable to attract a bidder willing to put
up the minimum bid for the so-called D-block in the 700 mHz auction.

"The private sector simply is not going to build a nationwide,
state-of-the-art, interoperable broadband network for public safety on its own
dime," he said, according to an FCC summary of the briefing.

Genachowski wants the FCC to proceed with a re-auction of the D-block and not
confine emergency communications to that block, but allow it to share the
entire 700 mHz band via "roaming and priority access" arrangements.

The FCC cleared broadcasters, and wireless microphones, off that band for
emergency communications and advanced wireless services.