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February 27, 2007

Frontline Offers 700 MHz Alternative for Public Safety

By Glenn Fleishman

Frontline Wireless pushes hybrid public safety/commercial model for some of 700 MHz: The group, headed by former NTIA and FCC figures, would like to impose a public-safety override requirement on one of the licenses in 700 MHz without devoting the license to public safety. It’s a little tricky to navigate, but there’s 12 MHz already allocated for narrowband voice in 700 MHz to public safety. Frontline wants 10 MHz adjacent to that (the E Block in the auction’s definitions) to be required to have a combined purpose. A bidder who wins the E Block license would have certain access to another 12 MHz that’s currently planned to be allotted to public safety for broadband purposes.

Frontline’s two twists are that the existing auctions could be carried out with this provision overlaid on a license, and that they propose an open access model in which there would be no restriction on the types of devices that would be allowed to be used in that frequency range. The licensee would have to resell access on a wholesale basis, too, making it of greater utility to allow the greatest number of different devices.

Competing plans want half of the 60 MHz scheduled for auction to be set aside for a national public safety network that would be operated by a single private operator, such as Verizon. All the proposals are predicated on the infrastructure cost being borne by private parties, obviating public dollars being spent on the buildout, but forgoing federal receipt of perhaps billions of dollars of spectrum bids.

Posted by Glennf at February 27, 2007 2:57 PM

Categories: 700 MHz, Spectrum

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