Maybe it’s the fact that the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon is fast approaching, but the fire has been lit under legislators and the FCC to finally move forward with a nationwide mobile broadband network for first responders.

For a while now the FCC has been pre-occupied with a well-known matter called “net neutrality,” but yesterday it finally moved ahead and voted to mandate LTE in the 700 MHz public-safety spectrum. In addition, the commission is asking for comment concerning the creation of a technical framework for the interoperable network that addresses issues such as network architecture, coverage requirements, security and resiliency. The FCC also established a new public-service advisory committee to ensure that public-safety networks will be interoperable.

Dovetailing with that move is the introduction of legislation from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that calls for the reallocation of the 700 MHz, D Block spectrum to public safety and provides a funding source for mobile broadband network deployments for first responders.

The initiative also received somewhat of a boost from President Obama in his State of the Union speech last night. He talked up the notion of blanketing the nation with wireless broadband.

"Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans," Obama said. "This isn't about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age."

He then suggested that businesses could use the wireless Internet to sell their products and firefighters could use smartphones to download the design of a burning building.

The most important piece of all of this, in my mind, is the funding source. If the government can guarantee billions to fund the rollout — even during a time when Republicans are calling for cuts in spending — nearly everything else will fall into place. You can bet that vendors quickly will get rolling on technical details, hammering out interoperability and network architecture issues as soon as possible. Let the gold rush begin.

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