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Momentum Building for FCC Plan to Deliver Cutting-Edge Public Safety Network

June 24th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Momentum is building for the FCC’s plan – outlined in the National Broadband Plan – to deliver the nationwide, cutting-edge, wireless public safety network America’s first responders need. Just since May, we have granted 21 waiver petitions for early builds of this critical network in a range of areas from New York State to Pembroke Pines, Florida to Seattle, Washington. These early network deployments will help us identify issues and sound, practical solutions in our efforts to deploy a public safety broadband network across the United States, covering 99 percent of the population. 

What has been most interesting and encouraging is the support we’ve been receiving from the public safety and technical communities, industry, and opinion leaders for moving forward with our plan.  For example, as we approach the ninth anniversary of 9/11, it is important to note that the Chair, Thomas Kean and Vice Chair, Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission have endorsed the FCC’s plan:

“The 9/11 Commission on which we served concluded that the absence of interoperable communications capabilities among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels was a problem of the highest order.  Unfortunately, we have made little progress in solving this problem until now.  The Commission's proposed plan offers a clear roadmap for finally reaching that goal.  It will provide public safety users throughout the country with access to wireless broadband capabilities that will enable them to communicate effectively across departments and jurisdictions, while encouraging public safety to partner with commercial providers and leverage the investments they already have made.  It also calls for the public funding that is needed to help build, operate, and maintain the public safety network.”

To provide the technical underpinnings of our plan, we recently released a white paper on the capacity and performance needs of a 21st century public safety network.  This paper has been endorsed by four former FCC chief technologists and a large coalition representing well-over 200 companies, tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of  dollars of investment in our mobile broadband future.

Coalition for 4G in America (including Sprint Nextel Corporation, T-Mobile USA, Inc., the Rural Telecommunications Group, Inc., the Rural Cellular Association, Xanadoo Company, Access Spectrum, LLC, and Clearwire, Corp.):  “The Coalition for 4G in America applauds the Commission for engaging in a comprehensive analysis of the capacity needs for users of the interoperable public safety broadband networks recommended in the National Broadband Plan. The Coalition supports the Commission’s findings and endorses the assumptions that lead the Commission to conclude in the Capacity Study that 10 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band can meet the day-to-day capacity needs of the public safety community.

In light of the 700 MHz band’s superior radio frequency propagation characteristics, the allocation of 10 MHz in that band will provide public safety with ample coverage and capacity when used in cellular network architecture. Additionally, the near uniform adoption of spectrally efficient broadband technology across the entire 700 MHz band could allow public safety users to roam with priority access on adjacent commercial networks during surges in bandwidth demand. As explained below, the Coalition agrees with the central findings of the Capacity Study that site density, spectrally efficient technology, and roaming with priority access are critical inputs in maximizing the capacity of interoperable public safety broadband networks…”

Dale Hatfield, Former FCC Chief OET and adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado:  “Fortunately, in my opinion, legislation along the lines that have been set forth in the staff draft coupled with recommendations and analyses presented in the National Broadband Plan….provide the necessary policy direction, funding resources, and analytical framework to ensure the successful deployment of such a nationwide network.  I am in general agreement with the analysis contained in [the Capacity White Paper]…in terms of priority access and roaming…[this] is consistent with my strongly held belief that better spectrum management requires more dynamic sharing of the increasingly scarce resource.” 

Stagg Newman, Former FCC Chief Technologist:  “The Capacity White Paper provides the fact driven analysis that can drive cost effective policy decisions.  This paper clearly demonstrates the value of the incentivized partnership as the wise use of taxpayer dollars…
1)  10 MHz of broadband dedicated spectrum is certainly enough spectrum to meet public safety foreseeable day-to-day demand; and
2)  PS broadband applications, particularly incident video, requires a high density cellular network because of distance limitations.

The cost effective approach to meeting both needs above is to light-up public safety's broadband spectrum while sharing cell site and fiber infrastructure.  The country cannot afford to build a new totally stand-alone dense cellular public safety network to support only 1 Million or so users when each national cellular player supports many 10s of millions of users on its infrastructure.  The country can afford to give and should give public safety their own "lane" on the wireless broadband superhighway, i.e. dedicated spectrum on a shared broadband infrastructure.  Now is the time for Congress and the FCC to make some tough decisions and implement the FCC's recommendations for the national public safety broadband infrastructure.  In particular now is the time to appropriate the money needed to build a broadband public safety infrastructure in conjunction with the build-out of the commercial 4G Infrastructure in the U.S.”

Dave Farber, Former FCC Chief Technologist:  said the FCC deserves credit for a plan that offers a solution beyond throwing more spectrum at a problem. "They looked at the demand, looked at what was available and I thought came up with a very intelligent approach," Farber said. Some public safety groups are "rooted in the old way of thinking," he added. "There will always be protests against anything you do."

This week, we appointed twenty state and local public safety officials to our technical advisory committee, formed to advise the FCC’s Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC). This center will help ensure that public safety can communicate with one another across agencies and departments, and geographies.  This is all in addition to seeking public comment on interoperability rules and opening the filing window for the waiver recipients to make interoperability showings.  We are also seeking public comment on the proposed budget of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust, the public safety broadband licensee to administer the leases for the early builders of the public safety broadband network. 

As we continue to progress with a creating a regulatory regime to enable the deployment of the public safety broadband network, we have recently received the following support:

Chuck Canterbury, President, National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP):  “The FOP supports the National Broadband Plan…and its strategic outline for the creation of a fully interoperable national network for public safety….The FOP agrees with the most recent conclusions of the FCC’s white paper, entitled, The Public Safety Nationwide Interoperable Broadband Network, A New Model for Capacity, Performance and Cost, which shows that the current spectrum dedicated to the Public Safety Broadband Licensee (PSBL) will provide the capacity and performance necessary for day-to-day communications and serious emergency situations…..The two largest public safety organizations, the FOP and our colleagues at the International Association of Fire Fighters…do not believe that the FCC’s vision or the overarching goal of establishing a national public safety broadband network depends on the D block being added to [the public safety license]…..The existing spectrum, along with…enhanced roaming on the commercial networks…would allow public safety agencies to operate across jurisdictional boundaries during emergencies in which greater capacities were needed….Capacity is not the only issue—an honest assessment of the needs and the cost to use that capacity effectively are equally important….”

Jonathan Moore, International Association of Fire Fighters:  “The public safety broadband network…outlined in the National Broadband Plan, will help assure that public safety has adequate capacity while providing first responders with resilient, hardened and affordable coverage…we believe that the ten megahertz currently allocated to public safety, combined with roaming and priority access on the D block and other commercial networks, will provide public safety with adequate capacity for everyday use as well as large-scale emergencies.  Furthermore, because such partnerships will be required to meet the….requirements established by ERIC, which itself will be advised by public safety, we have confidence that they will meet public safety’s mission critical standards….Leveraging commercial technologies…is expected to reduce the cost of devices to public safety….Lastly, by auctioning the D block, the FCC plan provides public safety with a true competitive choice among commercial partners, as well as the more competitive network rates which would follow.”

Brian Fontes, National Emergency Numbering Association:  “In NENA’s opinion, having access to a nationwide public safety broadband network with significant funding for construction, maintenance and operation of the network, with a guarantee of roaming and priority access, is a workable approach.”

Steve Berry, President and CEO, Rural Cellular Association:  “The FCC got it right!  Spectrum alone will not satisfy public safety’s needs - a new broadband technology with interoperable devices and funds to build the network is the best prescription.  I am pleased with the FCC’s report, and we can only hope that public safety takes advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Joe Hanley, Technology Planning and Service, Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. (US Cellular):   “Support the….proposal to auction the D block and use the proceeds to fund a nationwide, interoperable broadband network.  A commercial auction of reasonably-sized D Block licenses followed by negotiated public/private partnerships will help meet both public safety and commercial broadband goals….A commercial auction of the D Block with an obligation for 700 MHz licenses to provide roaming access to public safety along with the option of public/private partnerships is the best path forward….commercial use [of the D block] may be essential to driving the necessary volumes of handsets and other devices need by public safety.  And as commercial use of this spectrum rises, the prices for public safety handsets should continue to decline…U.S. Cellular strongly supports the FCC’s plan for a commercial auction of D Block licenses followed ideally by shared public safety/commercial network partnerships.  With the PSBL spectrum, adequate funding and opportunities to negotiate with multiple commercial operators in a region, public safety entities will be in a strong position to develop favorable arrangements with D block and other 800 MHz licensees or develop public safety-only networks if they so choose.”

Coleman Bazelon, Brattle Group:  “The D block should be auctioned for unrestricted commercial uses and public safety’s needs should be directly funded.”

We are at a critical juncture.  We must move forward now with the deployment of the nationwide interoperable public safety network in order to realize this vision. In the end, under the FCC plan, public safety will have access to the latest wireless technologies, including handsets at commercially competitive prices that can be used across the 700 MHz band.  This will be particularly critical on those really bad days when first responders need additional capacity to respond to emergencies beyond the spectrum dedicated for their use. No longer will public safety be left behind the times or stuck on a technological island with outdated, expensive equipment they cannot afford to upgrade or replace.  Public safety will no longer be a bystander in the broadband revolution; they will have the opportunity to be part of future technological innovations, keeping pace with the latest broadband technologies for years to come.

FCC Calls on Government Officials to Help Create Technical Framework for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

April 29th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

On April 23, 2010, the FCC established the Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) within the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, whose mission is to promote the interoperability and operability of public safety broadband communications in the 700 MHz band. While ultimately we plan to create a widely-inclusive Public Safety Advisory Committee to work with ERIC, until that can be established, we are seeking nominations for an interim Technical Advisory Committee that will immediately assist ERIC with establishing technical issues surrounding interoperability for the nationwide public safety broadband network.

It is essential that we begin this process to ensure that we are able to set the technical framework for buildout of the network that is in-line with the buildout of commercial networks using 4G technologies so that we don't miss the technological wave that will eventually revolutionize wireless broadband services in America.  The time is now to get this moving in the interest of public safety's needs long-term and those who serve on this interim committee would be providing a commendable and worthwhile service on behalf of the American public. In the end, the Committee will serve a vital role in helping us on the path forward with the creation of a nationwide interoperable wireless public safety broadband network for America's first responders, hospitals and other public safety officials.

The Committee will be comprised of Federal government officials or employees and elected officers of State, local or tribal governments (or designated employees authorized to act on their behalf) are eligible for membership on the Committee. What better way to have input on such an important initiative and one that we hope will address the 9/11 interoperable communications crisis now facing police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and hospitals across this nation? It is the input from these dedicated public safety officials that is going to help make all the difference in ensuring that this network is truly interoperable and nationwide -- one that benefits first responders from Maine, to West Virginia, on to Texas, Montana and California.

We are seeking members of the Committee with the following experience:

  • Knowledge of 4G wireless standards and practical industry implementation of these standards;
  • Working experience in technical management and operations of public safety mission critical communications and networks;


  • Working experience with RF/wireless technologies;
  • Working experience with public safety applications and standards (such as P25) and existing public safety vendor products and systems;


  • Knowledge of interoperability and spectrum management;
  • Knowledge of existing commercial wireless systems;
  • Knowledge of functionality, wireless market products and implementation of encryption, authentication, roaming and priority access; and


  • Experience with capacity planning and RF network design, implementation and optimization.

If you are interested, please send:
(a) the name of the applicant or nominee and a statement of his or her eligibility to participate on the Committee;
(b) the applicant's or nominee's mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, and facsimile machine number; and
(c) a statement of the applicant’s or nominee’s qualifications for membership on the Committee.
by mail to Brian Hurley, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th St., SW, Washington, D.C., 20554, or by email to All nominations must be submitted by May 19, 2010. The FCC will select members after we receive the nominations.

We are looking forward to hearing from you. Working together, we can achieve this important public safety goal.

Bringing Nationwide Interoperable Communications to America's First Responders

April 23rd, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

One of the most pressing recommendations of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan is the proposed creation of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband wireless network (“public safety broadband network”) for first responders and other public safety personnel.   One major strategy for developing this ambitious and critically overdue component of our emergency communications infrastructure is establishing the rational basis for public funding to ensure the network is deployed throughout the United States and has necessary performance, capacity, coverage, resiliency and redundancy.

This broader strategy lays out a strong roadmap towards achieving the public safety network. Today, FCC staff issued a white paper that explains the comprehensive analysis and sets forth how public safety agencies can leverage the deployment of 4G commercial wireless networks to greatly reduce the overall costs of constructing their nationwide broadband network.  The paper also provides a basis for public funding of the construction, operating and evolution costs of the public safety broadband network. It illustrates the network’s affordability for the nation to build and for public safety to operate with technology that works today and provides for future technological advances.  

In this analysis, we considered the complexity and scope of constructing a nationwide stand-alone public safety network, in which 80% of the 44,800 sites would be new builds. We quickly concluded that the price tag for this new, stand-alone network would be cost prohibitive and the sticker shock could potentially thwart investment into the development of this critical infrastructure. We developed an alternative, more cost-effective solution that sacrifices nothing in terms of meeting the unique requirements of public safety, but also simply makes good fiscal sense.

Through the proposed incentive-based partnership approach, our cost model found that approximately $6.5 billion in construction funding will be required over a 10-year period to provide this service to agencies that collectively serve 99% of all Americans compared to $15.7 billion in construction cost for a stand-alone public safety network. That’s over $9 billion in savings in a time where every dollar counts. This savings is largely found in building upon the billions that have already been invested or are being invested by commercial service providers, leveraging existing infrastructure and economies of scale. Examples of the types of economies gained include adding a new radio access network for public safety to an existing tower or site, which already has backhaul to a functioning core network, and zoning and site acquisition instead of building entirely new towers for a stand-alone public safety network.

For operational expenses, the NBP suggests a public funding method, such as imposing a minimal public safety fee on all broadband users to fund the network’s ongoing costs, and appropriate network improvement costs. Once the network development matures, the cost of funding network operations is approximately $1.3 billion per year by the 10th year of construction. By leveraging what is already being built the cost per cell site is dramatically reduced in both construction expenses and operating expenses. Conservatively, the stand-alone network would require at least 2.5 times higher construction costs, excluding deployable equipment, and proportionally even more in ongoing costs based on Sprint-Nextel and Verizon Wireless annual reports for 2009 that found operating expenses are approximately twice construction expenses.

We have preserved many options for public safety agencies to design and pursue their own public safety broadband networks, but the cost model is predicated on the most cost-effective approach, which is this incentive-based partnership approach.  If public safety agencies decide to use another approach, it may cost more.  This incentive-based funding approach is just another example found in the National Broadband Plan that you can be both innovative and pragmatic; invest in what is necessary without breaking the bank.

It is important to note that this is the only comprehensive cost model that has been put forward for a nationwide, interoperable network, one that has been accomplished with a great deal of rigor.  The nation should be cautious about pursuing any other concept that has not been subjected to the same rigor.  We can all agree that there is no greater investment than in the safety of the American people, and this is the time for investment in a public safety broadband network.

The FCC’s Public Safety Broadband Blueprint: A Cost-Efficient and Effective Solution for Our Nation’s First Responders

April 9th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

In the past few weeks since the release of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, it’s refreshing to see an increased public dialogue on the many innovative and important recommendations aimed at improving the lives of Americans. The public safety chapter of the Plan outlined several such proposals, the cornerstone being the deployment of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network with dedicated capacity for public safety uses that will serve our brave first responders from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. Questions of cost to build the network and the benefits of such an ambitious investment are especially critical during a time where resources are increasingly scarce, even for the most important infrastructure projects.

The public safety network will be a multi-pronged initiative that will be a model of greater reliability and resiliency, capacity and cost savings.  Further, public safety will have access to 10 MHz of dedicated capacity as well as to commercial broadband capacity on a priority basis (up to 80 MHz of capacity in total).  This more robust and hardened public safety broadband network will provide reliable service to first responders, who everyday are dedicated to serving their communities across the country.  The ability to roam onto commercial networks and obtain priority access in times of emergency will expand and enhance current capacity, and resiliency. Further, public safety will have a choice of commercial partners, ensuring that its needs are met in the most efficient manner. 

The leveraging of commercial technologies under the FCC Plan will enable public safety agencies to achieve greater communications capabilities, but at much lower costs and ruggedized for public safety use. The Plan requests public funding to support the construction and operation of the public safety broadband network and projects the capital cost to be approximately $6.5 billion over 10 years. However, additional cost-saving efficiencies will further reduce this estimate such as sharing federal infrastructure, working with utilities, or use of state and local tower sites to improve coverage.  The Plan also calls for $6-10 billion in operating costs for the network to be funded through public funding.

The Plan’s recommendation for public funding of the public safety broadband network is at a critical juncture. It is imperative that the public safety community be given access to funds to make sure this network becomes a reality and is able to leverage commercial deployment of 4G technologies.  By leveraging commercial technologies at this juncture, the overall cost of the public safety broadband network will be substantially less to the country.  It will also ensure that this network is deployed soonest to better protect all Americans, no matter where they live. 

I don’t think there are many who would argue that there is a critical and essential need for this nationwide public safety broadband network in America. The FCC’s blue-print for a path forward is comprehensive and ultimately will save our nation time and money, while providing public safety with the robust broadband communications they need to better serve their communities. Together, we as a nation can make this happen. A clear path forward is before us.

9/11 Commissioners: Broadband Plan Can Help Keep Nation's Promise to First Responders

March 15th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Over six years ago, the 9/11 Commission highlighted the importance of achieving effective nationwide interoperable communications for public safety.  While some improvements have been made, true nationwide interoperability does not yet exist.  The National Broadband Plan’s recommendation on creating a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband wireless network will achieve this vision and enable public safety to take advantage of advanced broadband technology. 

Today, two former members of the 9/11 Commission released this statement in support of the Plan’s recommendation.

Statement of Former 9/11 Commissioners Jamie Gorelick and Slade Gorton
on the Federal Communication Commission's Approach to
Interoperable Communications Capabilities for Public Safety

"The 9/11 Commission on which we served concluded that the absence of interoperable communications capabilities among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels was a problem of the highest order.  Unfortunately, we have made little progress in solving this problem until now.  The Commission's proposed plan offers a clear roadmap for finally reaching that goal.  It will provide public safety users throughout the country with access to wireless broadband capabilities that will enable them to communicate effectively across departments and jurisdictions, while encouraging public safety to partner with commercial providers and leverage the investments they already have made.  It also calls for the public funding that is needed to help build, operate, and maintain the public safety network.  To be sure, there are still some issues that need to be worked out, such as whether the 10 MHz of spectrum currently dedicated to public safety is sufficient to meet its needs.  But the FCC's plan offers a realistic framework to move forward, and we hope that all stakeholders will work with the Commission to refine the plan as needed and make it a reality."

Support for the Public Safety and Homeland Security National Broadband Plan recommendations

March 3rd, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Jamie Barnett, Bureau Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, held a press conference announcing several working recommendations in the National Broadband Plan that aim to improve public safety and homeland security communications. The process in developing these proposals has been unprecedented in its transparency, openness, and its data-driven and fact-based emphasis. And, the hard work has not gone unnoticed. The plan has been well received.  This means a lot to the Commission, particularly from first responders and emergency managers who have dedicated their life’s work to helping keep our neighborhoods across America safe.  It is critical that we continue to work together to make meaningful progress toward the creation of a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network for America’s first responders.

Here are just a few examples of the positive feedback we've received thus far:

Craig Whittington, President of the National Emergency Numbering Association: The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) applauds the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to create the Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC). “The establishment of the ERIC further demonstrates the Commission’s strong commitment to enabling a critically needed nationwide public safety wireless broadband network,” said NENA President, Craig Whittington, ENP. “ERIC would provide essential oversight and technical assistance to make the deployment of a nationwide wireless public safety broadband network a reality and ensure that the needs of public safety are met,” added Whittington.

Fraternal Order of Police: "In order for our nation's public safety officers to have a robust national broadband network, both the existing spectrum held by the Public Safety Broadband Licensee and the D Block are needed," Canterbury said. "Chairman Genachowski’s and Admiral Barnett presented the FCC's plan for achieving this critically important goal. The FOP believes that public-private partnerships will help law enforcement and other public safety officers develop the advanced broadband network we need to protect our communities and our nation, Canterbury said. "We look forward to working with the Chairman and the Commission as they move forward with this important initiative."

Clearwire issued the following statement: We applaud the FCC’s decision to hold an auction of the 700 MHz D block spectrum.  This Commission clearly understands the benefits competition can bring to consumers and to public safety.  By holding an open auction, the agency will ensure that our nation’s first responders have an interoperable broadband network, as well as access to the best equipment and newest innovations at the best possible prices.

Sprint Nextel: "Chairman Genachowski's plan for nationwide public safety broadband communications promises to break the deadlock over establishing interoperable public safety communications.  The Chairman's statement today rightly emphasizes the need for public safety to have consistent and prompt access to robust, secure interoperable networks of the highest quality.  Public safety users must also have state-of-the-art devices and applications. Sprint Nextel shares the Chairman's goal of ensuring that our nation's first-responders have access to the best wireless broadband services at competitive prices.  For this reason, Sprint Nextel strongly supports the Chairman's approach of relying on competitive forces to ensure the deployment of public safety broadband communications.  By permitting public safety to partner with commercial operators, the Chairman's competition-minded plan not only promises to tackle the national priority of ensuring broadband communications for public safety, but also to create well-paying, high-tech jobs."

4G Coalition, which includes Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Clearwire, MetroPCS, the Rural Telecommunications Group and Access Spectrum: "The competitive mobile broadband providers of the Coalition for 4G in America applaud Chairman Genachowski for his creative solution to foster a robust public safety broadband network as part of the FCC's National Broadband Plan. The Coalition welcomes the Chairman's proposal to balance the realistic funding and spectrum needs of the public safety community with the imperative of meaningful competition and choice in 4G mobile broadband services. The Coalition looks forward to working with the public safety community, the FCC, and Congress to correctly implement the proposal, have a successful commercial D Block auction and ensure the availability of public safety broadband communications services."

Tom Sugrue, VP Government Affairs at T-Mobile had this to say: "T-Mobile applauds Chairman Genachowski's announcement today that his broadband team will recommend auctioning D Block for commercial mobile broadband use.  The plan announced today provides a framework for a win-win solution that addresses the needs of both public safety and consumers."

And another from WCAI President and CEO Fred Campbell: "On behalf of the Wireless Broadband industry, I applaud Chairman Genachowski for recognizing the importance of wireless broadband for today's global economy and for his commitment to place mobile broadband at the core of the National Broadband Plan. WCAI supports the Chairman's initiatives to unleash more spectrum for mobile broadband, resolve longstanding debates in the WCS band, and develop a comprehensive public safety strategy to improve mobile communications for first respondents. We thank the Chairman, Blair Levin and the rest of the agency's Broadband team for their hard work and look forward to working with the FCC as it finalizes the National Broadband Plan and moves toward its implementation."

Conclusion: Making Technology work for Public Safety

We Want to Hear from the Public

The opportunity we have to leverage 21st century technology to meet 21st century demands has never been greater. With just over two weeks before the National Broadband Plan is due to Congress, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the framework of the innovative working recommendations that will better help the public safety community protect our communities.


Analysis of the Gaps: Public Safety

November 20th, 2009 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Jennifer Manner BB


 Earlier this week at the Commission meeting, the Broadband Task Force outlined key gaps that need to be addressed before the U.S. can enjoy universal broadband. There are gaps in the public safety and homeland security sector that I think are important and worth highlighting.  Specifically, we are still determining how best to ensure the creation of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.  Today, there is no such network that meets the requirements of the public safety community. 
More generally, there is a broadband connectivity gap for the public safety community, including the police, fire fighters, the emergency medical response community, and many 911 centers.  This gap limits the potential for development of broadband applications that would vastly enhance the ability of public safety personnel to protect lives and property.  For example, today most police and fire departments do not have access to broadband wireless communications for their first responders that would enable them to increase situational awareness when responding to an event.  The only broadband wireless services available today are those offered by commercial providers, which lack the coverage and resiliency that public safety requires.  
The Task Force presentation also highlighted that if broadband is going to further national priorities such as public safety, incentives that promote broadband deployment need to be aligned.  For example, in order to ensure that public safety agencies across the country will have access to a broadband network that meets their requirements, we need to identify existing and potential incentives that will support deployment of the network in rural and remote areas that commercial broadband networks are unlikely to reach.  These incentives can come in many forms, but are critical if this network is able to support emergency responders throughout the country.  Other incentives must be provided to ensure that public safety broadband networks are able to have the sorts of resiliency and redundancy that public safety requires in order to ensure operation during emergencies.


Report from Nov. 12 Georgetown Field Hearing on Broadband and Public Safety

November 20th, 2009 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Jennifer Manner BB

We just wrapped up a fascinating field hearing held in conjunction with Dr. Howard Federoff and the Georgetown University Medical Center on public safety and emergency medical applications and requirements. The hearing included Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Rand Beers as well as FCC Commissioners Clyburn, Copps and Baker. There was also a cast of experts whose valuable input will help us develop a National Broadband Plan with meaningful expectations and recommendations for public safety. Their attendance and participation only further highlighted how important it is that everyone in the public safety community come together to find solutions to the communication issues we’ve faced for quite sometime.  As Commissioner Copps noted, the National Broadband Plan presents as good an opportunity as we’ve had to solve these issues.  It was a truly insightful discussion. Here are some key points that were raised during our three-panel field hearing.
The first panel focused on innovative broadband applications used by emergency medical personnel. One example was from Dr. Richard Katz, Chief Cardiologist at George Washington University, who highlighted a program Georgetown University Medical Center uses that can display a patient’s complete chart and monitor EKG readings wirelessly from a smart phone device.  Dr. Katz indicated that he is able to write prescriptions for patients electronically no matter where he may be.  This helps better ensure that patients get the prescription drugs they need much more efficiently and quickly.  Another example of how broadband has helped treat patients was the use of electronic health records that greatly reduce medical costs and the chance for human error related to patient care. Thanks to Larry Flournoy of Texas A&M, Dr. Richard Katz of George Washington University, Jonathan Linkous of American Telemedicine Association, Bruce McFarlane of the National Organization on Disability and Kevin McGinnis of the Joint National EMS Leadership Conference for their participation.
During the second panel, we heard about exciting applications used by police departments that help officers quickly respond to emergencies, save lives and do their jobs easier. Tim Riley, the Chief Information Officer for the Los Angeles Police Department talked about the 1,800 LAPD squad cars that can send and receive broadband communication such as access to national databases, fingerprint identification, photos and video files -- this includes the ability to send electronic subpoenas.  An interesting point that many panelists agreed upon was that the commercial wireless systems in use now are not entirely reliable and coverage is not guaranteed, which was noted by several panelists as a way to emphasize the critical need for the build-out of a commercial mobile broadband network for public safety on the 700 MHz band.  Thanks to Randy Hughes of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bob Pavlak of the Government of the District of Columbia, Eddie Reyes of the Alexandria Police Department, Tim Riley of the Los Angeles Police Department, Greg Schaffer of the Department of Homeland Security and Richard Tuma of City of Waukesha, Wisconsin.
The third and final panel featured a spirited and interesting discussion on the requirements needed for the public safety wireless network.  Highlights of this discussion include the need for the network to be available anytime and anywhere, resilient, interoperable and secure.  Mission critical voice must be required as Land Mobile Radio communication is here to stay and remains a vital part of emergency response and should be supported by the network and devices.  The panelists also emphasized that it is essential that government at all levels, the public safety community and communications providers work together to pave a path forward for the development of a robust and interoperable mobile broadband network for America's first responders, hospital emergency departments and public health officials.  Thanks to Paul Mankiewich of Alcatel/Lucent, Bob Epsom of Motorola, Steve Harte of the City of New York, Dennis Martinez of Harris Corporation and Chief Charles Warner of the Charlottesville Fire Department.
The contributions of the wide variety of stakeholders who shared reports on the exciting and potential applications our brave medical and first responders will use with a public safety network, as well as their views on what we should include in the National Broadband Plan were truly fascinating.  This field hearing shed some light on the subject and will contribute significantly to the development of the public safety and homeland security section of the National Broadband Plan.
In case you missed it, you can view presentation materials and recorded webcast here. Please feel free to add to our discussion by leaving your comments.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Input Sought on Sept. 30 Cyber Security Workshop

September 8th, 2009 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Jennifer Manner BBAs part of the Broadband Plan NOI, we specifically sought comments on cyber security.  In an effort to gather more data on this issue, we will hold a Cyber Security Workshop on September 30th.  While the Workshop will be here in D.C., it will of course be accessible on the web.  I am really excited to have folks join us as we and the panelists discuss the prevention and detection of cyber attacks and the restoration process in the event of an attack.  As we are still planning the workshop, I would be very interested in hearing from you what issues you think we should cover.  I look forward to reading your comments here.

Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones