PSST to seek D Block for public safety
Congress should reallocate the 10 MHz commercial D Block spectrum in the 700 MHz band for public-safety use, the board of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) — the nationwide license of the public-safety broadband spectrum adjacent to the D Block — voted yesterday.
Public-safety organizations such as the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) previously expressed their support for the D Block to be dedicated to public-safety use. While the PSST board had directed Chairman Harlin McEwen to work with these organizations, yesterday’s action marked the first formal action on the matter.
“This is a very clear, strong and unequivocal position,” McEwen said.
Among the PSST board members, only the representative from the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) opposed the majority position. NENA has proposed that both the D Block and the public-safety spectrum held by the PSST be auctioned by the FCC to a commercial operator. According to a PSST press release, the PSST board discussed the NENA proposal but voted not to support it. The PSST voted to encourage NENA to support the majority position of asking the FCC to recommend that Congress allocate the D Block to public safety.
“Everybody else [on the PSST board] is in harmony, and we’re asking [NENA] to join us, as well,” McEwen said.
NENA officials were unavailable for comment for this article, but the organization previously has expressed concern whether a viable economic model for a national broadband network using the D Block and the PSST spectrum can be achieved if the swaths of spectrum are licensed to public safety.
Separately, the PSST re-elected its current officers to new two-year terms. McEwen, representing the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), will continue as chairman. Kevin McGinnis, representing the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO), will continue as vice chairman. Alan Caldwell, representing the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), will continue as secretary-treasurer.