Powell promises progress on E911, spectrum issues
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell told attendees of the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO) International, Inc., conference Monday that the FCC is making progress on three most nettlesome issues facing the Public Safety community.
“I am energized by our progress,” Powell said, “and I have a number of key announcements to make today about our future plans.”
In a speech that lasted less than half of an hour, Powell primarily focused on E911 and took no questions. Other high-ranking officials of the FCC did participate in roundtable discussions of regulatory issues, however, at the conference in Indianapolis, Ind.
Powell announced that the Commission is implementing a wireless 911 nationwide public awareness campaign, emphasizing wireless E911 coordination, outreach, and education. “Not all carriers are created E911 equal – and consumers have a right to know,” Powell added, encouraging attendees to educate the public about wireless phones and devices that provide the best E911 compatibility.
Along with consumer outreach, he said, the Commission will intensify efforts to coordinate with state, local and tribal governments.
Powell announced the establishment of a wireless E911 technical subcommittee of the Commission’s Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) that will focus on network architecture and technical standards issues. The January 2004 Technical Advisory Committee meeting will be devoted to wireless E911 in an effort to shape the issues to be studied by the NRIC.
“We now know that E911 works and can save lives,” Powell said.
Powell briefly touched on spectrum issues facing public safety and promised resolution without offering a timetable.
“First and foremost, public safety needs reliable access to its existing spectrum resources, particularly at 800 MHz. The interference issues at 800 MHz are very serious and complex. In fact, this may be one of the most challenging spectrum policy proceedings that will come before this Commission,” he said. “I cannot tell you that we have yet resolved these issues; but I can assure you that this proceeding is an absolute priority.”
“The Commission is also committed to speeding public safety deployment in the 700 MHz band,” Powell said. “Whatever the ultimate mechanism, rest assured that we understand the need to make these frequencies available as soon as possible.”
Additionally the chairman said, “We encourage the public safety community to develop creative solutions promoting interoperability including strategic partnerships between governmental and non-governmental users.”
“As you know, the Commission recently made an additional 50 MHz of spectrum available at 4.9 GHz. In our decision, we encourage public safety to develop partnerships with the critical infrastructure community to provide secure communications,” he said.