Task force nears 700 MHz proposal
LAS VEGAS — A public-safety task force yesterday agreed on most issues to be included in a 700 MHz broadband network for first responders during a session conducted in conjunction with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) annual conference.
After presentations from representatives from each working group, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) broadband task force reached a consensus accord on a proposal it expects to submit to the FCC this fall. During the next two weeks, the task force will revisit some minor disputed issues in the proposal and alter the language in certain areas of the proposal, said Dave Buchanan, chairman of the task force.
“We’re not going to change the intent of anything; it’s really just packaging at this time,” Buchanan said.
Task force members hope to submit the completed proposal on Sept. 4 to the full NPSTC board, which is expected to vote on the matter during its meeting scheduled for Sept. 15. If approved by NPSTC, the proposal will be submitted to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), the nationwide licensee of public-safety airwaves designated for 700 MHz broadband.
NPSTC officials said the goal is to submit the final proposal to the FCC by the beginning of October. The FCC last week requested comments on multiple waiver requests from first-responder entities seeking permission to build 700 MHz broadband networks in their geographic regions. Comments in that proceeding must be submitted by Oct. 16.
“Personally, I would like to see [the NPSTC proposal at the FCC by October, so people can consider it when making their comments,” Buchanan said.
Key points in the proposal include a request that Congress dedicate the D Block to public safety, that LTE be the technology used in the network and that all “emergency support agencies” be allowed to use the network, not just traditional public-safety entities.
The proposal represents the culmination of what Buchanan described as “tremendous amount of work” by the broadband task force, which appears ready to complete the large task within the 60-day window established by the NPSTC board.
For the technical working group, the task was made much easier when high-profile public-safety organizations — APCO, NPSTC and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) — endorsed LTE as the preferred technology for a 700 MHz broadband network designed for public-safety use, said Emil Olbrich, a representative of the technical working group. With the LTE endorsements, the technical working group was able to be more focused in its efforts than it would have in a technology-agnostic arena.
“It’s been easier than I expected,” Olbrich said. “There has been a lot of consensus.”