FCC unanimously approves LTE standard for nationwide public safety network

The FCC's been looking to establish a nationwide public safety network since the early days of the infamous 700MHz spectrum auction, and while it never quite accomplished that task, the commission has made a small but important step -- it's unanimously decided that Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be the one ring that binds all future chunks of public safety radio band. Of course, this wasn't a terribly hard decision for the FCC to make, as major commercial cellular carriers and a number of regional public safety agencies have already invested in LTE equipment for the 700MHz band... and the decision doesn't yet specify a voice standard. All that's been decided upon is how those countless packets of data will float over the air. How will disparate groups of first responders communicate with one another in the event of a national emergency? That's what the organization is asking you right now -- feel free to contact the FCC anytime within the next 45 days with your proposal.

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FCC Takes Significant Steps toward Solving Problems Identified by 9/11 Commission

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Third Report and Order (Order) and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that will significantly advance communications interoperability for our Nation's first responders. The rules adopted and proposed in today's Order and FNPRM support the build out of robust, dedicated and secure mobile broadband networks that will enable public safety broadband users to share information, videos, photos and emails across departments and jurisdictions nationwide for day-to-day operations and during large-scale emergencies.

The Order and FNPRM requires all 700 MHz public safety mobile broadband networks to use a common air interface, specifically Long Term Evolution (LTE), to support roaming and interoperable communications and seeks comment on additional rules to enable nationwide interoperability. The FCC's actions today build on the technical requirements that state and local 700 MHz broadband waiver recipients are already subject to in the early buildout of their regional public safety broadband networks.

The FNPRM seeks public comment on, among other things:

The architectural vision of the network;
The effectiveness of open standards;
Interconnectivity between networks;
Network robustness and resiliency;
Security and encryption;Coverage and coverage reliability requirements;
Roaming and priority access between public safety broadband networks; and
Interference coordination and protection.

The deadlines for public comments and reply comments on the FNPRM are 45 days and 75 days, respectively, after publication in the Federal Registry.

Action by the Commission January 25, 2011, by Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 11-6). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker. Separate statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn, and Baker.

For additional information, please contact Jennifer Manner, Deputy Bureau Chief, PSHSB, at (202) 418-3619 or; or David Furth, Deputy Bureau Chief, PSHSB, at (202) 418-0632 or