Oklahoma, Nevada push for FCC decision on 700 MHz waiver requests
Officials from Oklahoma and Nevada this week asked the FCC to rule soon on their longstanding waiver requests to use 700 MHz broadband spectrum for public-safety LTE networks. Funding for each system could be pulled if the FCC does not grant approval during the next month.
In Oklahoma, the state is prepared to allocate $150 million for the deployment of a dedicated LTE network for first responders and has selected Alcatel-Lucent as its primary vendor for the project. However, this funding is “at risk” if the FCC does not confirm that Oklahoma can use the 700 MHz spectrum, according to Alex Pettit, the state’s chief information officer.
“Because the commission waiver has not yet been granted, the state funding is in near-term jeopardy,” Pettit stated in a letter to the FCC, noting that he must make a report to the state legislature in March. “Simply put, without a commission waiver, I cannot justify to the state legislature continuing to hold aside millions in funding for a [public safety broadband network] that may never be built, due to indefinite regulatory delay.
“That state money will be spent elsewhere for other projects that can move forward today. No state government can afford to allow allocated funds to remain idle, budgeted but unspent when there are other priorities that can be addressed.”
Representatives from Oklahoma met with FCC officials on Monday to discuss the matter, according to the FCC filing. Oklahoma’s waiver request has been pending at the FCC for almost 18 months, Pettit said.
Nevada’s 700 MHz waiver request is in a similar situation — it was filed almost two years and also faces a funding deadline, according to state officials.
“Nevada requires the requested relief so we can continue to advance our technological capabilities in response to all regional emergency events to protect the lives and property of it citizens,” Shawn Taylor, radio network administrator for the Washoe County Regional Communications System, stated in an FCC filing. “State funding has been designated to support the waiver, but this funding will be redirected, if action on the waiver is not granted before March 1, 2012.”
Also advocating the Nevada waiver request is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who wrote the FCC about the matter in mid-November and again last month.
“Our state and region require your immediate attention in completing the review and approval of the Nevada waiver request,” Reid stated in his January communication. “Critical funding timelines and program-implementation schedules are at risk, and this puts the public at risk.”