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4G/3G/WiFi

FCC Votes to Make LTE a Public Safety Standard

Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology will be the basis for any nationwide public safety network in the U.S., but the question of where the spectrum will be found for such a deployment is still up in the air.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 5-0 Tuesday to mandate LTE as the technology that should be used for any U.S. nationwide public safety network. The agency is seeking public comment on what coverage is required and what kind of equipment will be needed for a network.

Why this matters
Mandating LTE as the broadband platform for public safety applications means that there is now more chance of separate public safety networks working together in the future. Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI), for instance, has already said it wants to use LTE for its planned public safety network in the Bay Area.

The vexing question for FCC, however, is exactly what spectrum can be made available to deploy a national network for public safety purposes. The FCC has previously tried and failed to auction the 700MHz D-Block with a public safety mandate attached, but it seems that political support for how to continue could be split.

To that end, Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller is expected this week to reintroduce his spectrum bill, which favors giving over the spectrum entirely to public safety purposes. While, according to The Hill blog, some Republicans want an auction.

Certainly, some U.S. carriers are now expecting an auction of the D-Block to happen but not this year. T-Mobile US Inc. CTO Ray Neville said last week that he thinks an auction is possible in 2012.

For more
Read more on public safety and spectrum availability:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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