IAFC: Progress for Public Safety Broadband Network

Recent actions in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demonstrated progress in the effort to develop a nationwide, public safety broadband network, an annoucement from the International Associated of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) said.

On January 25, 2011, Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, introduced S. 28, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act. This legislation, which Senator Rockefeller originally introduced last year, would allocate the D Block in the 700 MHz band of spectrum to public safety to develop a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network. The bill also would allocate $11 billion for the construction, maintenance, and operation of the network. The IAFC supports this legislation.

In addition, the FCC released a Third Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to advance the build-out of robust, dedicated and secure mobile broadband networks for public safety. The Order and FNPRM requires all 700 MHz public safety mobile broadband networks to use Long Term Evolution as the common air interface to support roaming and interoperable communications. It also seeks comment on many of the technical aspects of a public safety broadband network, including the architectural vision of the network; network robustness, resilience, and security; and roaming and priority access among public safety broadband networks.

At an open meeting, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that Chief Jeff Johnson, IAFC President 2009–2010 would chair the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) of the Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) with Deputy Chief Eddie Reyes, City of Alexandria (Va.) Police Department. The ERIC is charged with the development of a technical and operational framework to support and encourage nationwide operability and interoperability in public safety wireless broadband communications.

“I am delighted to be asked to chair the PSAC and look forward to working with Chief Reyes and the other PSAC members to develop a nationwide broadband system that will utilize 21st century technology to protect the public,” said Johnson.

IAFC President and Chairman of the Board Chief Jack Parow, praised the developments. “The actions by Senator Rockefeller and the FCC demonstrate their clear support for public safety’s goal to revolutionize our operations through broadband communications,” said Parow. “I commend Chairman Genachowski for appointing Chief Jeff Johnson–one of the leading fire service experts in broadband communications—to chair the ERIC PSAC.”

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