Verizon lauds FCC's public-safety plan--with a big caveat

Verizon Wireless threw its support behind the FCC's effort to craft a nationwide, interoperable public-safety broadband network, but reiterated its opposition to a key provision of the plan.

"The nation's police officers, firefighters and EMS technicians must have access to advanced broadband capabilities and networks that will ensure a high level of reliability and priority," Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communication, said in a statement. "The (FCC) chairman's proposal would promote such a nationwide network by funding the deployment and operation of regional public-safety broadband networks, providing a national framework to ensure these networks are interoperable across the country, and enabling public safety to partner with commercial providers to leverage the considerable investments already made in commercial infrastructure."

Last month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the agency's broadband plan will call on Congress to allocate $12 billion to $16 billion over 10 years to fund the network. Importantly, he also said the plan would call for a re-auction of the D Block of the 700 MHz spectrum band, and said public-safety agencies should have access to all of the 700 MHz band, not just the D Block.

That stance is at odds with Verizon's position; the carrier has repeatedly called for scrapping the D-Block auction process and instead giving the spectrum directly to public-safety agencies. Tauke said Verizon's position on that point has not changed. AT&T also supports that position, as does the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, a key public-safety organization. Both Verizon and AT&T are going to launch LTE networks in the 700 MHz band.

Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA, which did not participate in 2008's 700 MHz spectrum auction, have endorsed Genachowski's proposal wholeheartedly.

For more:
- see this release

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