US seeks private funding for new wireless network

The US' emergency communication system is inadequate, and the government has come up with a solution, a nationwide wireless broadband network that will operate on a highly valuable portion of the publicly owned airwaves.

An Associated Press report also said while US legislators and bureaucrats have embraced the idea, they haven't dedicated funds to pay for it. For that, the plan depends on private investors.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the plan July 31, the report said.

The report said it calls for the creation of a network shared by public safety officials and commercial users. The cost, as much $10 billion, according to one potential investor, could be footed by private investors who, in the long run, hope to turn a profit.

'We kind of rolled the dice when we approved that,' said Michael Copps, a Democratic member of the FCC. Copps would have preferred 'by a long country mile' that the network were federally funded, but realizes options are limited.

Republican FCC chairman Kevin Martin was quoted by the Associated Press report as saying that he would 'have supported a network exclusively for the use of public safety,' but 'the simple reality is that there is no way to fund such an enterprise.'

The plan the commission approved was adapted from a proposal by Frontline Wireless, a new company loaded with former senior government officials and backed by a who's who of technology industry luminaries, the report said.

Frontline wants to combine 10MGhz of spectrum dedicated to public safety with another 10MGhz of commercial spectrum, set for auction early next year, to create a shared national network, it added.