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PSST wants $15 billion of stimulus package for 700 MHz shared-use network

As President-Elect Obama’s administration continues to work on a financial plan to stimulate the country’s sagging economy, the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corp. is asking that $15 billion be included in the plan to help build a shared public-safety/commercial wireless network at 700 MHz.
Harlin McEwen, PSST chairman, made the request to the incoming administration in a letter on Friday. According to the letter, the money would be used to help commercial partners build the network and also create and preserve jobs.
“It is critical that the broadband provisions of the stimulus legislation directly and expeditiously address your promise to modernize public-safety networks,” according to McEwen’s letter. “”Time is of the essence.”
McEwen pointed out that members of the 9/11 Commission recently wrote to Federal Communications Commission leadership that seven years have passed since 9/11, and the country’s is still without implementation of a public-safety network that has been recommended by the commission.
McEwen said a nationwide 700 MHz shared wireless broadband network would provide enhanced and interoperable public safety communications, as well as expanding access to commercial broadband services to areas underserved or without the technology.
The Obama administration is working on a stimulus plan that could be the largest in the history of the country. The legislation’s cost has been reported between $675 billion and as much as $850 billion.
The PSST is the public-safety broadband licensee and is working with Cyren Call Communication Corp.
Earlier this year, the FCC failed to attract a bidder for a hybrid D-block license that carried a minimum $1.3 billion price tag in the 700 MHz auction. Recently, the FCC has put in play a new plan. The agency is seeking public comment on a revised package that outlines a process designed to attract money from the private-sector without compromising strict public-safety communication requirements. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is hopeful the guidelines could be hammered out in time to have a new auction in June.
Morgan O’Brien, Cyren Call chairman, said he supports the money being made available to one or more private partners to construct next-generation public-safety broadband network.
“For years the lack of public funding has stymied the development of such a network,” O’Brien said in a statement. “Now Congress and the incoming Obama administration may have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to assist private partners willing to construct and operate this vital public resource.”
In his letter, McEwen said that even a $5 billion increase in broadband investment directly creates 100,000 new jobs in telecom and I.T. in the year in which spending occurs and will result in 2.4 million jobs throughout the economy if targeted successfully to increase broadband penetration. McEwen got his figures from Department of Commerce and Brooking Institute.
“Such job growth could significantly help you reach your goal of saving or creating 2.5 million jobs in the next two years,” according to McEwen’s letter.


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