A public-safety task force met for the first time last week in an effort to establish requirements for 700 MHz broadband systems that can be used as national standards, potentially providing guidance to the FCC and to metropolitan areas or regions wanting to pursue their own network buildouts in the spectrum band.

Participants in the process include the 15 member associations of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), the Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate–Command, Control & Interoperability Division, and the technical-support organization at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The goal of the task force is to ensure that interoperability and roaming is effective nationwide if the proposed system-of-systems approach is used to provide public-safety entities with access to broadband using 700 MHz frequencies, said Dave Buchanan, director of NPSTC’s spectrum committee.

"I would stress that it’s the minimum requirements — we’re not trying to satisfy everything. It's up to the regional systems to decide their level of availability, their backup power and things like that," Buchanan said. "All we're doing is identifying those minimum things that are needed to have their systems be compatible with the other ones on a nationwide basis for roaming and interoperability."

During its first conference call on Friday, the task force created and gave tasks to three working groups — technical, governance and operations. The groups will work via phone and e-mail until July 16, when the task force will begin a two-day in-person meeting that is designed to generate draft documents, Buchanan said. The task force may meet again during the APCO Conference in August, he said.

"We basically want to wrap this up by the week of the APCO conference," Buchanan said. "We’re not wasting any time."