Last month, the Public Safety Spectrum Trust — which hopes to be named soon as the licensee that will work with the D Block auction winner to build a nationwide broadband wireless network for first responders in the 700 MHz band — named Cyren Call as its agent/adviser. Certainly, many are wondering why Cyren Call was selected.

But first a few words about the selection process. Ten organizations responded to a request for proposal issued by the PSST. A five-member selection committee winnowed that list to three finalists. Each finalist made outstanding presentations, and each was eminently qualified for the role of agent/adviser. In fact, each committee member independently selected the same three finalists, which is noteworthy because it provides some insight as to the strength of the respective presentations of these three organizations.

An organization needed to exhibit certain attributes to be selected as the PSST's agent/adviser. First, it had to have experience with commercial telecommunications networks because none of us on the public-safety side of this endeavor possess such experience. Second, it had to possess solid business experience. Third, it had to provide a solid plan to fund the PSST and its activities in the early stages of this project because it will be some time before this network is deployed and generating revenues from user fees.

So then, why was Cyren Call the unanimous choice of the selection committee? Simply because Cyren Call did a better job of anticipating the challenges we likely are to encounter in terms of building out a public-safety-grade commercial network and — more important — offered very solid recommendations as to how to address those challenges.

This shouldn't be too surprising. Recall that Cyren Call first floated the notion of a nationwide wireless broadband network for first responders in March 2006. Cyren Call then assembled a team of very smart people who for the past year and a half have devoted themselves solely to this concept. That gave them momentum and a unique insight that put them in a very strong position going into the review process. In retrospect, it would have been surprising if Cyren Call hadn't developed a solid plan for this monumental and unprecedented endeavor.

It is important to note that while some might view the selection of Cyren Call as a sentimental choice — and with good reason, because a nationwide wireless broadband network for first responders still would be a dream, and not a reality, if not for Cyren Call — this was not a paper process. If anything, the selection committee — of which I was a part — worked overtime to make sure each presentation was judged solely on its merits. Justice, and not just poetic justice, was served by the selection of Cyren Call.

Cyren Call has justified the PSST's faith in it — at least at this early juncture — by hitting the ground running, as anticipated, having already conducted preliminary meetings with entities that might bid for the D Block spectrum. In addition, work has begun with the broadband working group of the National Public-Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) to develop the statement of requirements to which the commercial provider will need to adhere in building out this vital network for first responders, and Cyren Call is intimately involved in that process, too. Even at this early stage, Cyren Call has demonstrated an appealing ability to understand the PSST's needs and to push the agenda forward, an ability that became readily apparent to the selection committee during the review process.

Clearly, the nationwide wireless broadband network authorized by the FCC is the right approach to bringing public-safety communications into the 21st century, and the PSST is the right organization to ensure that the needs of first responders are met by this ambitious effort. Just as clearly, Cyren Call is the right choice to provide the guidance the PSST will need as it attempts to do something never before contemplated. It won't be easy. But nothing in life that's worthwhile ever is.


Harlin McEwen is the chairman of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust. He also is the chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police communications and technology committee.