Almost a dozen governmental entities in the San Francisco Bay Area have expressed support for a new joint powers authority (JPA) designed to drive the region’s effort to have a 700 MHz LTE network for public safety deployed and maintained.

By the end of the month, 11 Bay Area cities and counties will have voted to participate in the JPA, Santa Clara County Deputy Executive Emily Harrison said. Officials for the county of Santa Clara and the city of San Jose were outspoken in their criticism of a plan calling for Motorola to use $50.6 million in federal stimulus grant money to build out a 700 MHz LTE network in the region, but both entities have voted formally to participate in the JPA.

Harrison is leading a group of officials in the region who are conducting preliminary discussions with Motorola to determine whether the JPA should continue to pursue the original deal. The group does not have any official authority and will give its information to the JPA once the new entity becomes official, she said.

Harrison characterized the discussions with Motorola as “friendly” but said the issues likely will be difficult to resolve, as several key aspects of the original plan — for instance, the number of users and the readiness of proposed sites — are not accurate today.

“The challenge is that the deal represented in the grant application is fictional,” Harrison said. “I would say that Motorola’s plan is not as robust or firm as it was represented to be. Nothing that was in [the initial plan] is actually the way it is on the ground right now.”

Harrison said her group will “try our hardest” to forge an agreement with Motorola, if possible. However, she acknowledged that recommending to the JPA not to proceed under the original Motorola deal — an agreement that was never approved by an official governing body — is “an absolutely viable option for us.”

In addition, Harrison said members of her group are monitoring federal legislative proposals that would reallocate the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety and provide significant funding for LTE network buildouts nationwide, noting that some wonder whether that avenue — if it becomes law — would provide a better path for the region to realize its public-safety broadband goals.

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