Public safety group urges $15B broadband investment
President-elect Barack Obama should allocate $15 billion for a
nationwide wireless broadband network, according to a federally
designated organization that holds a license to create such a network
for public safety.
The Public Safety Spectrum Trust wants Obama
to include funding for a network that commercial users and first
responders would share in an upcoming economic stimulus package,
according to a Dec. 19 letter from Harlin McEwen, chairman of the
corporation, which represents 15 national public safety groups.
would be a win-win-win decision by the president-elect and the Congress
because it would create jobs,” which is the main goal of the package,
McEwen said in a news release today. “It would bring wireless broadband
Internet access to the public that doesn’t have it, and it would result
in a nationwide 700 MHz public safety wireless broadband network.”
2007, the Federal Communications Commission assigned a license to the
trust for a nationwide broadband network that would be established in
cooperation with the owner of the D Block of radio spectrum in the 700
FCC put the D Block up for auction in January but
received only one bid that was less than the $1.3 billion minimum
price. According to FCC’s terms, the winning bidder would set up a
partnership with the Public Safety Spectrum Trust to jointly operate
the spectrum and share it with public safety organizations.
his letter to Obama, McEwen recommends creating a public/private
partnership to structure and operate the nationwide broadband network.
He said that approach would help Obama meet his campaign pledge to
expand broadband services to underserved areas and improve
interoperable public safety communications.
“Time is of the
essence,” McEwen wrote. “Supporting these initiatives through
allocating an extremely modest portion of the funding associated with
the contemplated economic stimulus package would implement these key
goals while creating significant job growth — both in the immediate
network construction phase and into the future.”
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.