As of Friday, dozens of companies, individuals, associations, government bodies and public-safety groups had filed more than 70 sets of comments with the National Telecommunications Information Administration regarding plans to build an LTE-based, public-safety broadband network in the 700 MHz spectrum band.
The deadline for filing comments on the project, headed by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), had been extended from Nov. 1 to Friday, Nov. 9, due to Hurricane Sandy. A sampling of the comments shows mobile carriers like Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) in favor of commercial carrier involvement in the creation of the network, but with some concerns about how network reliability and other issues will be managed. In their comments, public-safety agencies apear much more concerned about ensuring first responders can override the network to gain priority over other network users.
Also last week, FirstNet board chairman Sam Ginn announced the appointment of longtime public-safety telecom advocate Harlin McEwen as chairman of FirstNet's Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). McEwen most recently was chairman of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corp., but also had long been the chairman of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Communications Committee and at one time was deputy assistant director of the FBI.
The NTIA said further announcements will be forthcoming on the remaining structure of the PSAC.
The first round of filed comments showed little consensus
FirstNet has many hurdles standing in its path