Light Reading

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
Against the odds, Huawei is growing its telecoms networking equipment business in the US -- that should be ringing some alarm bells for domestic vendors.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Jeff Miller, ActiveVideo

8|28|15   |   19:05   |   (0) comments


Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Vodafone: Mobile Money Is About Customer Trust

8|27|15   |   06.36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading spoke with Vodafone's Ian Ravenscroft about the unique responsibilities and opportunities facing operators handling customers' financial transactions over the network.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Palo Alto Networks on Expanding in the Carrier/Service Provider Market

8|26|15   |   07:54   |   (0) comments


Alfred Lee from Palo Alto Networks tells Steve Saunders about their new chassis-based system, the PA-7080, and how it can benefit service providers compared to legacy firewalls.
LRTV Custom TV
Global Services Forum Preview

8|25|15   |   02:36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders talks about Huawei's upcoming Global Services Forum with the help of Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan and Teresa Mastrangelo.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Infoblox on DNS Threat Index

8|19|15   |   04:39   |   (0) comments


Dilip Pillaipakam from Infoblox talks to Steve Saunders about his company's core network services.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Ihab Tarazi, Equinix

8|14|15   |   20:18   |   (1) comment


Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the dramatic changes in the data center, cloud and interconnect markets and discusses the impact of SDN and NFV in the coming years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
The Netformx Ecosystem

8|14|15   |   09:39   |   (1) comment


Ittai Bareket, CEO of Netformx, talks with Steve Saunders about the Netformx Ecosystem, which employs cutting-edge prescriptive analytics to help solution providers maximize profits.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks on Leveraging VNFs

8|12|15   |   07:37   |   (0) comments


Kumar Mehta, founder and CEO of stealth mode startup Versa Networks, talks with Steve Saunders about how providers can best leverage virtualized network functions (VNFs).
LRTV Custom TV
Transforming the Network Through OPNFV

8|5|15   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group; GM Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, on OPNFV Arno and how the industry is coming together to accelerate the deployment of NFV and transform the network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (1) comment


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
LRTV Custom TV
Network Visibility & the New IP

7|30|15   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


Mukund Srigopal provides an explanation of what network visibility is and how it is essential as service providers transition to the New IP. In addition, the importance of the network packet broker is discussed.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Cisco's cloud and virtualization portfolio can increase business agility and innovation by building a more flexible network architecture.
Hot Topics
Verizon Hums a Driving Tune
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/26/2015
Gogo Approved to Speed Up In-Flight WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/24/2015
Could Market Volatility Hurt Tech IPOs?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/24/2015
Sprint's Claure: '3 to 5 Years' to Turnaround
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about data center, cloud and the impact of virtualization in the coming years.
Cats with Phones
Cats Are a Smartphone's Best Friend Click Here
Whoever said cats didn't live to please their humans?