Police chiefs seek additional 30 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) this week passed a resolution expressing support for the reallocation of 30 MHz of spectrum in the upper 700 MHz band to be held in trust for public safety—a notion first proposed earlier this year by Cyren Call Communications.
Similar to the action taken by the Association of Public-Safety Communication Officials (APCO) in August, the IACP resolution does not expressly support Cyren Call but endorses the fundamental principles of the proposal made by the Morgan O’Brien-led company.
“It was carefully worded because of the concern that we not lock ourselves into any one approach,” said Harlin McEwen, chairman of the IACP’s Communications and Technology Committee. “But it’s a very strong statement of support for the additional spectrum, because, without the spectrum, nothing happens.”
Included in the resolution was a statement noting that a public-safety broadband network would benefit public safety’s data capabilities and “provide an opportunity to augment and back up mission-critical land-mobile voice communications using new VoIP technology.” As he has stated often publicly, McEwen said he did not want the resolution to be misconstrued as advocating the broadband network as a replacement for existing LMR voice networks.
“We’re really worried about the fact that we know some people will seize upon it and say, ‘Then you don’t need any more money for land-mobile interoperability, operability or systems,’” McEwen said. “We have to make clear that we won’t settle for that, because that is critical to us.”
This spring, Cyren Call filed a proposal with the FCC calling for 30 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum—airwaves adjacent to the 24 MHz already earmarked for public safety—be allocated to a public-safety broadband trust. The trust would lease the spectrum to commercial operators willing to build public-safety-grade broadband networks nationwide in a public-private partnership.
Although the IACP resolution does not expressly state that the trust would lease the spectrum in a public-private partnership, such an arrangement is what the organization supports, McEwen said.
“There isn’t anything that I can see in the Cyren Call proposal that wouldn’t be good for us,” he said.
In addition to APCO and IACP, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and several regional fire-chiefs associations have expressed support for the notion. In fact, the Western Fire Chiefs Association—representing fire organizations for 10 western states—this week passed a resolution supporting “the concept of seeking an additional allocation of 30 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum to public safety” for nationwide broadband communications.
“We’ve concentrated the last three months on increasing public safety’s awareness and to generate their interest, and things seem to be coming along very nicely,” said Bruce Cox, Cyren Call’s vice president for government relations.
Cyren Call officials are hopeful that support for its 700 MHz plan will be enough to convince Congress to rethink plans to auction the 30 MHz of spectrum in the band to commercial operators. Congress is scheduled to reconvene after the November elections in a lame-duck session, but Cox said he does not expect Capitol Hill to alter the auction plans during that time.