Public safety groups and their corporate backers oppose FCC network plans
In paper Wednesday:
By Cecilia Kang
You'd think police and firefighters would be the first to back a federal plan to give them a nationwide wireless communications network.
But a dozen public safety groups have banded together against just such a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission, marking the latest twist in a nearly decade-long battle to make it easier for first responders to talk with one another during times of disaster.
This week, the groups launched a $500,000 advertising campaign to persuade Congress to scrap an FCC plan to auction airwaves to a commercial wireless carrier that would help build the network. Instead, the Public Safety Alliance wants to add those airwaves to spectrum its members already control, saying that they don't want to be restrained by a commercial partner.
Having more spectrum, the alliance says, would allow its members to create their own robust network through which police could send streaming video from a crime scene to medics and investigators.
"It's long overdue for Congress immediately to hold hearings and help keep America safe by providing this nationwide communications network, controlled and operated by public safety, not by commercial carriers," said Rob Davis, San Jose chief of police and president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
The lobbying battle follows years of botched efforts to create the national public safety communications network that Congress mandated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
June 9, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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