& cplSiteName &

Spectrum for Safety: Is There Enough?

Carmen Nobel
News Analysis
Carmen Nobel
5/1/2006
50%
50%

A band of valuable broadcast spectrum is creating controversy again, with telecom industry veteran Morgan O'Brien pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set aside more of the airwaves for a public safety trust, rather than auction it off as planned.

O'Brien, a founder of Nextel Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: NXTL) who resigned as an employee in 2003 and left the company board in 2005, now heads a new company called Cyren Call. The company publicly debuted on Thursday with a 45-page filing to the FCC, asking that the commission set aside 30 MHz of spectrum in the upper range of the 700MHz band, in addition to the 24 MHz the FCC already has delegated for public safety.

The FCC has been planning to auction off the bulk of those 30 MHz to wireless service providers sometime in 2008 -- the auction likely would garner tens of billions for the U.S. government. (Much of the band is occupied by cable TV operators, but they are required to relocate to another band by February 2009.)

O'Brien has other ideas. In its filings, Cyren recommends that the FCC create a single, nationwide public safety network, issuing the spectrum to a public trust. The trust would then be required to lease capacity on the spectrum to commercial operators, which would pay for the network infrastructure in exchange for the right to launch commercial services on the network -- with the understanding that the services mustn't interfere with public safety.

To make its point, Cyren lists several examples of public safety emergencies in which insufficient communications systems made bad situations worse: the January 1982 crash of a commercial jetliner into the Potomac River, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

"We see this as a critical opportunity, and we believe policy members should act on this proposal before the spectrum is auctioned off to the private sector," says Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for Cyren. (Kovacevich explains that the company is called Cyren Call instead of Siren Call "to convey a futuristic look and feel.")

What's in it for Cyren?

"If the FCC adopts the proposal, Cyren hopes to be in a position to serve as a network operator, to help foster rules for, and the development of, a national public safety broadband network," Kovacevich says.

The CTIA , the largest lobbyist organization for wireless carriers, naturally is opposed to Cyren's proposal. CTIA argues that the 24 MHz already allotted to public safety will be enough.

"A new debate would arrest the progress Congress has made in providing both the spectrum and funding that it has pledged to public safety," said Steve Largent, president and CEO of the CTIA (and former NFL wide receiver) in a prepared statement. "Additionally, this new proposal would deny American consumers the benefits of the spectrum allocation and assignment, both in terms of the billions of dollars in revenue that will flow into the U.S. Treasury, as well as the delivery of new services to more than 200 million U.S. wireless consumers, many of whom rely on their wireless devices for enhanced productivity, safety, and security.”

While at Nextel, O'Brien made waves in the spectrum world. In the early 2000s, public safety organizations began complaining that Nextel's signals were interfering with public safety signals in the 800MHz band. But what began as a PR nightmare for Nextel turned into a coup: To deal with the problem, the FCC approved a deal in which Nextel would move into the 1.9GHz band -- considered by many to be more valuable spectrum than the 800MHz band anyway.

"He has a lot of experience and influence in D.C.," says Phil Redman, a research vice president at Gartner Inc. , speaking of O'Brien. "Public safety and private radio is his forte."

Sprint Corp. inherited the spectrum swap when it acquired Nextel in August 2005. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is now in charge of that spectrum swap, which is due to be completed in June 2008. The company responded to Cyren's proposal carefully.

Cyren doesn't expect to change any industry minds overnight. "We see the filing as the beginning of the debate," Kovacevich says.

— Carmen Nobel, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
No Stopping Cable's Ethernet Gains

12|9|16   |     |   (0) comments


Vertical Systems' Erin Dunne explains why US cable operators, which now command a record-high 26% of the Ethernet market, will keep boosting their share.
LRTV Interviews
Fixing IoT Security Is an Ecosystem Challenge

12|9|16   |   05:34   |   (1) comment


Level 3 Communications' Chief Security Officer Dale Drew says service providers, manufacturers and even consumers must combine to halt massive DDoS attacks using IoT devices in botnets. The solution he has in mind includes reputation-based routing by the service provider but also more secure endpoint devices and greater consumer awareness.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Clears $2B in Business Revenue

12|8|16   |     |   (0) comments


Cox's Jeff Breaux discusses how the third-largest US MSO will reach the $2 billion revenue mark this year and plans to hit $3 billion by 2021
LRTV Interviews
Can Cable Climb Upmarket?

12|7|16   |     |   (0) comments


Carol Wilson and Alan Breznick assess cable's prospects for winning more enterprises in a landscape rocked by corporate M&A activity.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
TalkTalk Exec: Find Your North Star at Work

12|7|16   |   3:38   |   (1) comment


Women need to find their purpose, a professional North Star, and create a personal board for themselves, according to Alex Tempest, director of partners at TalkTalk Business.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon: Beware Unknown Unknowns

12|7|16   |   04:58   |   (0) comments


Chris Novak, director of the Verizon Enterprise Solutions Risk Team, explains that enterprises who don't conduct a thorough audit of their assets often leave some things unprotected because they don't know they exist. Many times these unprotected assets are part of corporate M&A activity but left unshielded they can become a hacker's playground, he tells Light ...
LRTV Interviews
ETSI's CTO Talks NFV, 5G & NGP

12|5|16   |   09:45   |   (0) comments


Adrian Scrase, CTO at standards body ETSI, talks about the various initiatives and specifications developments related to NFV, 5G and NGP (next-generation protocols) that will underpin next-gen networks.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (2) comments


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BTís Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
Upcoming Live Events
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cable Nodes Becoming a Choke Point
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 12/5/2016
Consolidated Snaps Up Fairpoint for $1.5B
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/5/2016
Small Arctic ISP Caches Netflix in New Way
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/7/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
A Mobile Safari Click Here
Literally.
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.