FCC grants public-safety agencies waivers to build LTE networks

The FCC granted 21 public safety entities permission to begin building out public safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks using 10 megahertz of spectrum public safety was granted back in 1997.

The FCC's approvals come with conditions that include the requirement that each entity build LTE networks that will interoperate with the proposed nationwide D-block 700 MHz network that the FCC included as part of its National Broadband Plan. Another key requirement involves each public-safety entity receiving a waver to invite other public safety agencies to use the new networks.

Public safety officials have welcomed such waivers saying the buildouts will give the public safety community critical information about how to deploy the nationwide LTE network.

Public safety officials generally welcomed the FCC action, noting that waiver buildouts will provide data important in the deployment of the proposed national network.

"We have always made the argument that granting these waivers will further the ability to understand what it is that we want to build and how we want to build it. When cities like New York and states like New Mexico build these systems, you'll be able to take that experience and apply it to the nationwide program," New York Deputy Chief Charles Dowd told Urgent Communications.

The FCC refused just one waiver, which came from commercial operator Flow Mobile. The commission said the operator couldn't operate in spectrum that was licensed directly to public safety.

In response to the FCC's move, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) said it would open a third round of broadband stimulus funding for these waiver recipients. The NTIA reasoned that some waiver recipients may have stayed away from applying for funding because they weren't sure they had permission to use the spectrum.

For more:
- see this Urgent Communications article
- read this Connected Planet article

Related articles:
FCC reveals more details about public safety network plans
What will become of the D Block? 
Seybold's take: It's time for public safety to present a unified plan
FCC plans to begin D Block re-auction process this summer  

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