FCC awards spectrum to public safety group

The Public Safety Spectrum Trust was the sole bidder

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has awarded the license for 10 MHz of valuable wireless spectrum to a public safety organization in anticipation of the spectrum being used to build out a nationwide emergency communications network.

The FCC yesterday awarded the license for the spectrum in the 700-MHz band to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corp. (PSST), a nonprofit organization with representatives from several public safety groups, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Sheriffs' Association. The 10 MHz awarded to the PSST will be combined with an adjacent 10 MHz of spectrum that will be auctioned in early 2008, with the winning bidder required to create a nationwide wireless network for both public safety agencies and commercial use.

The FCC award to the PSST was expected. The PSST was the only applicant for the nationwide license.

The group will negotiate a network-sharing agreement with the winning bidder on the adjacent 10 MHz of spectrum, and it will administer usage fees for the nationwide network. The organization will also review requests for early build-outs and will manage public safety access to the commercial portion of the spectrum during emergencies, according to the FCC.

PSST members are grateful to the FCC for "recognizing the significant amount of work and progress achieved by the PSST to fulfill the FCC's guidelines for creating a nationwide network for public safety," said Harlin McEwen, the PSST's chairman, in a statement. "Holding the spectrum license is a responsibility the PSST takes very seriously as we embark upon building an unprecedented interoperable communications system for public safety."

The PSST spectrum is part of a chunk of spectrum being abandoned by U.S. television stations after Congress in late 2005 required them to move to all-digital broadcasts by early 2009. The FCC will auction 62 MHz of spectrum in the 700-MHz band starting on Jan. 24.

Several lawmakers and groups pushed for part of the spectrum to be used for an emergency communications network. During the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And in more recent disasters, emergency response agencies found they couldn't talk to one another because they were using a variety of equipment on different spectrum bands.

The auction of 700-MHz spectrum is expected to raise more than $10 billion. Several companies are eyeing the spectrum to use for long-range wireless broadband networks. The spectrum is particularly valuable because signals can travel three to four times farther than wireless signals on higher-spectrum bands.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon