Despite the lack of a solid plan for giving public safety access to D-Block spectrum in the 700 MHz band, Long Term Evolution technology is poised to make inroads into the first-responder community anyway now that the FCC granted 21 public-safety entities permission to begin building out networks in the 10 MHz of spectrum in the band that the sector already has in its possession.

And other stars are aligning as well, as at least one funding opportunity has arisen and vendors have begun articulating their propositions for the public-safety community.

Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said it would open a third round of broadband stimulus funding for these waiver recipients, with a deadline set for June 1. The NTIA reasons that some waiver recipients may have stayed away from applying for funding because they didn't have the authority yet to use that spectrum.

“The FCC has just cleared the way for a number of state and local governments to deploy new public-safety broadband systems,” NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said in a statement. “Given the [Obama] administration’s commitment to improving the communications networks of our fire, police and rescue personnel, NTIA is offering these governments the opportunity to apply for broadband stimulus funding to help build their networks. We hope to receive strong proposals that merit investment in order to advance the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable public-safety broadband network that makes America safer.”

It sounds like these entities may be a shoo-in for funding unless they have a totally hokey, not-well-thought-out plan.

And public safety finally may get what it long has wanted: Heavier competition for their business. In April, Alcatel-Lucent and EADS Defence and Security announced an agreement to develop new public-safety technologies by combining the Project 25 standard and LTE into a single solution. Yesterday Motorola gave more details about its next-generation public-safety plans that include integrated and interoperability solutions to link two-way systems with LTE.

I suspect that we soon will hear more details coming from competing vendors, such as Ericsson. Not only would they want to win infrastructure contracts but there is big business in network management. Ericsson, for instance, manages all of Sprint's network operations. Managed services are the growth engine for vendors these days.

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