FCC bureau sets criteria for 700 MHz public-safety licensee
Parties interested in serving as the national public-safety broadband licensee that will be part of the proposed public-private network buildout in the 700 MHz band must submit applications to the FCC by Oct. 10, according to an FCC public notice released this week.
Under the FCC order approved by the commission on July 31, the national public-safety licensee will try to negotiate an agreement with the winning bidder of the D Block spectrum next year. The national public-safety licensee’s 10 MHz of spectrum will be combined with the 10 MHz of D Block spectrum to provide the operating frequencies for the shared wireless broadband network.
To date, the only entity expressing interest in becoming the national public-safety licensee is the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), which was established in June by several public-safety organizations to serve this purpose. Most industry observers have said they would not be surprised if the PSST is the only applicant to be the national public-safety licensee—a notion supported by PSST President Harlin McEwen.
“The eligibility requirements are so tightly written out that I find it hard to believe that anybody else could be eligible,” McEwen said.
In fact, the PSST is not yet eligible at the moment, as the organization is still working to reconstitute its board of directors to meet FCC specifications for the national licensee, McEwen said. Until that work is done, the PSST will not hire an agent/advisor from a list of three finalists selected last month, he said.
Initially, the PSST had hoped to hire an agent/advisor by the end of August and produce a document stipulating public safety’s requirements on the shared network, so potential bidders could prepare for the 700 MHz auction, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 16. Although circumstances have created a challenging timetable, McEwen said he believes the situation is workable.
“I’m disappointed that we’ve had this delay, but I think we’re going to be all right,” he said.