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Posted at 4:45 PM ET, 01/27/2011

White House moves to give airwaves to public safety for emergency wireless network

By Cecilia Kang

President Obama endorsed a plan Thursday to give public safety officials a swath of valuable airwaves so that fire crews, police and paramedics can build a wireless high-speed Internet network to communicate during times of emergency.

The White House said the proposal, outlined this week in legislation proposed by Sen. John Rockfeller (D-W.V.), is part of Obama's State of the Union pledge to cover 98 percent of the nation with high-speed wireless access and build an interoperable network for public safety officials.

The plan opposes one presented last year by the Federal Communications Commission, which said that television airwaves should be auctioned to a commercial carrier who would build out the network to share with emergency first responders. The FCC says public safety officials can't afford to build the network, and the costs -- which could reach $16 billion -- would be enormous for the federal government. T-Mobile has pushed for an auction because it wants to buy more spectrum to compete with AT&T and Verizon Wireless in high-speed wireless Internet service. Public safety officials and companies such as Motorola, AT&T and Verizon, meanwhile, have lobbied against the FCC proposal.

But the FCC on Thursday indicated support for the White House plan, saying it shares the administration's goal to bring high-speed wireless networks to more Americans.

"The White House has proposed a National Wireless Initiative that will help unleash new spectrum through incentive auctions, expand next generation wireless broadband coverage across the country, and implement and pay for a nationwide interoperable public safety network," a senior FCC official said in a statement. "We share these goals and, like the President, believe they are essential to our global competitiveness, economic growth, and innovation. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration in the months ahead on the specifics."

The White House offiicial said the proceeds from a separate voluntary auction of broadcasters' airwaves for commercial high-speed wireless networks would help cover the costs in building a public safety network. The official said in a call with media that the administration hoped to get legislation passed this year to move forward on the public safety plan.

On Tuesday, Obama said during his speech that the public safety network would solve communications problems that have plagued public safety officials. During the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York, fire, Port Authority and police crews complained of radio problems and an inability to communicate with one another.

The future network would solve that problem and allow for new communications tools such as "a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device," Obama said in his speech.

A White House official said the administration would present details on its plan in coming weeks. The official said in a statement that the White House would support legislation that specifically blocks the auction of public safety airwaves to a company. Instead, the White House would support federal financial support.

"This decision follows a nine-month interagency review process that included extensive consultations with stakeholders and discussions with members of Congress," the official said in a statement.

By Cecilia Kang  | January 27, 2011; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  FCC  
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Comments

THIS, OF COURSE, IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA. NOW, HOW MUCH SPECTRUM IS BEING RESERVED FOR THE PUBLIC'S GENERAL USE. IF CORPORATIONS ARE GRANTED ALL AVAILABLE SPECTRUM, OTHER THAN THE "PUBLIC SERVICE AIRWAVES", THEN BUSINESS WILL EXCLUSIVELY DICTATE WHAT INFORMATION WILL BE DISSEMINATED OVER AIRWAVES, THUS MANIPULATING THE PUBLIC BY CONTROLLING THE FLOW OF INFORMATION. THE PUBLIC WANTS AIRWAVES OWNED BY THE PUBLIC, TO ENSURE THE FREE FLOW OF ALL INFORMATION.

COMMONSENSEFORCOMMONGOOD.COM

Posted by: commonsense4commongoodcom | January 28, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

THIS, OF COURSE, IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA. NOW, HOW MUCH SPECTRUM IS BEING RESERVED FOR THE PUBLIC'S GENERAL USE. IF CORPORATIONS ARE GRANTED ALL AVAILABLE SPECTRUM, OTHER THAN THE "PUBLIC SERVICE AIRWAVES", THEN BUSINESS WILL EXCLUSIVELY DICTATE WHAT INFORMATION WILL BE DISSEMINATED OVER AIRWAVES, THUS MANIPULATING THE PUBLIC BY CONTROLLING THE FLOW OF INFORMATION. THE PUBLIC WANTS AIRWAVES OWNED BY THE PUBLIC, TO ENSURE THE FREE FLOW OF ALL INFORMATION.

COMMONSENSEFORCOMMONGOOD.COM

Posted by: commonsense4commongoodcom | January 28, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Let's be serious. The Public Safety entities are after one thing: They want someone to pay for their day to day operation of their wireless voice/data network, that is presently being covered nicely in each locale by Motorola radios and designated spectrum-adequate for daily concerns.
WHat the FCC is proposing allows the Local Public Safety entities to continue using their local radios for daily activity, but when a real Nationwide or Regional Emergency/Disater occurs & officially declared by State and or Fed (and we do not mean a local accident of chemical spill) the Public entity would be allowed exclusive & immdeiate access to the new networks 10MHz of spectrum (LTE 700MHz)to handle the emergency. This new LTE network (with dual mode devices) needs to be paid for by someone as in the Private sector freeing up the public from paying for the $16 Billion. If we rely on a Gov. entity to build out a Nationwide network we will never get there and the costs would be triple those of a competitive entity.
When will we learn

Jim A

Posted by: jimaimone | January 28, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Nowhere in the article does it state what frequency spectrum is being taken for use or if anybody is using it now.

Posted by: JoeHughes | January 30, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

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