What needs to be emphasized to Capitol Hill is that this cost estimate only looks at the network-connectivity aspect of NG-911. It does not try to estimate how much new equipment, software or personnel a PSAP would have to add to make the next-generation vision a reality — substantial costs that probably cannot be estimated right now, as there are too many variables and potential changes that would need to be considered.
Even if Congress acted faster than most can contemplate and this proposal were approved in less than a month, that doesn’t leave enough time to create the grant program, establish grant guidance, accept applications and decide who would receive the funds.
Next week, Congress is scheduled to return to session, after spending the past month away from Capitol Hill. There are no hearings or votes during the break, so there is no way to make any tangible progress toward the passage of legislation. But that doesn’t mean that public-safety representatives also were taking a break during the past month.
What is remarkable about the NALs is that they are for myriad violations. It used to be that the FCC would get serious about a particular issue, for example tower lighting, and would issue a host of NALs for that rule violation. Now, the FCC is looking at various areas for enforcement and is issuing NALs whenever and wherever evil is found.
Without question, Sept. 11, 2001, will be remembered forevermore as one of the darkest days in our country’s history. It is exceedingly difficult to find a silver lining in an event that caused nearly 3,000 Americans to lose their lives. But if there is one, it is that public-safety communications are far better today — and promise to be even better in the future.
Just getting to this point is a remarkable achievement. What sane person would have predicted, when all of this began, that public safety would get this far? Most people didn’t think it would, metaphorically speaking, pick up even one first down. And yet, here it is, with the goal line just a few yards away.
A larger FCC order on this topic is expected in the upcoming months, but some question whether the agency can interpret existing law to grant the kinds of flexible use of public safety’s 700 MHz broadband that would provide the greatest benefits to taxpayers.