UTC completes 700 MHz broadband workshop
Representatives of key federal agencies expressed support for utilities having access to the 700 MHz broadband network being built for public safety, according to an official with the Utilities Telecom Council, which hosted a workshop on the topic yesterday.
Attended by 100 people, panelists during the workshop included representatives from utility companies, vendors and the departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) fund that is used to help pay for telecommunications deployments in rural areas, according to Brett Kilbourne, UTC’s deputy general counsel and vice president of government and industry affairs.
“We definitely got some very strong support from DHS and USDA in terms of the need to have utility companies be part of this discussion,” Kilbourne said. “They actually said they consider us first responders.”
Yesterday’s meeting was a “workshop in every sense of the word,” and ideas expressed during the session will be incorporated in UTC’s white paper on sharing the 700 MHz network with public safety, Kilbourne said. Some of the key themes communicated during the workshop were the requirement for rural coverage, the need for partnerships and the benefits of providing more detail about potential infrastructure-sharing opportunities.
Utilities have been seeking additional airwaves that would serve as the spectral foundation for broadband communications networks that would enable smart-grid applications such as sophisticated remote monitoring and control applications that would increase utility efficiencies and customer convenience. While utilities have sought spectrum in various band, many industry experts believe sharing the 700 MHz with public safety may be the best opportunity for the sector.
Meanwhile, many industry observers believe partnerships between utilities and public safety is logical, because public safety has the spectrum utilities need, while utilities can provide the users, revenue streams and infrastructure that would allow the public-safety network to be built and maintained more economically.
“One of the things we’ll be following up on is developing better information about infrastructure that we can contribute to the PSBN,” Kilbourne said.