FCC approves waivers for regional public-safety broadband networks using LTE

The FCC granted 21 conditional waivers to regional and local entities to begin building wireless broadband networks for first responders in the 700 MHz band.

The states, counties, cities and regions had been petitioning for the waivers while the FCC crafted its plan for a nationwide, interoperable network for first responders. In approving the petitions for waivers, the FCC placed several conditions on the networks, chief of which is that the networks be deployed  in a common interoperability framework in coordination with the FCC's Emergency Response Interoperability Center.

Additionally, the networks must have nationwide interoperability, use LTE as their over-the-air interface, and grant access to certain applications, including access to the Internet, to an incident command system, and to field-based server applications.

"Today's action brings America significantly closer to creating a nationwide public-safety broadband network that will enable first responders to quickly communicate and share critical, time-sensitive information with each other during emergencies," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "We stand ready to assist public safety in their efforts to maximize the federal resources available to them to deploy these mobile broadband networks across the nation."

Harlin McEwen, the chairman of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust, a nonprofit corporation made up of public-safety groups, said that he was very pleased that the FCC had granted the waivers, noting that some localities had been petitioning the FCC for more than a year.

"What it's going to do is it's going to get things moving forward so that we can actually begin to test out some ways to do this," he told FierceWireless. "There are different ways to do this and still be compatible, and this will give us an early opportunity to see which ones work better than others."

The commission has made creating a nationwide, interoperable network for first responders a key part of its national broadband plan. Part of the public-safety effort includes a re-auction of the D-Block portion of the 700 MHz band (that spectrum though is not part of the waivers the FCC approved).

For more:
- see this release
- see this BetaNews article

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