FCC declines to consider Cyren Call's public safety band proposal

Published 9 November 2006

Improving communication among first responders and rescue units is a pressing topic, and one proposal, advanced by Cyren Call, calls for allocating 30 MHz in the 700 MHz band for public safety purposes; the wireless industry opposes the plan, and the FCC says it contradicts the wishes of Congress

Uninterrupted communication among first responders and rescue units during and following a disatser is essential. As the attacks of 9/11 and the events during and following Hurricane Katrina showed, the lack of such communication may hamper rescue efforts and exacerbate the consequences of the disaster. One solution offered to the cummunication problems was to dedicate a portion of the spectrum for public safety use. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) initially appeared to favor this approach, advanced by Cyren Call. Last week, however, the FCC Acting Public Safety and Homeland Security Chief Bureau Kenneth Moran signed an order saying that the agency will not, after all, open an official proceeding on the Cyren Call public safety wireless communications plan. The FCC pulled the plug on the proceedings only days after putting up the Cyren Call plan for public comment.

The Cyren Call Communications Corp. is headed by Morgan O’Brien, a cofounder of Nextel. Cyren wants the gvernment to allocate 30 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, scheduled to be auctioned in 2008, for public safety purposes. Cyren filed a petition with the FCC last April asking the commission to open a proceeding on the plan. Note that the Cyren proposal is controversial for two reasons:

* Congress previously had ordered the FCC to auction off the 30 Mz of spectrum for commercial use in January 2008, expecting to generate billions of dollars for the Treasury

*Some argue that Cyren’s proposal would disrupt yet another plan by Congress: Legislators have mandated that, by January 2009, all TV broadcast should be high definition. This means that, by that date, TV operators must vacate the analog channels they now occupy in the 700 MHz band. Congress was planning to allocate 24 MHz in the 700 Mz band for public safety as part of the transition to high-definition television, and the reserved 24 MHz is adjacent to the 30 MHz in Cyren Call’s proposal.

Cyren’s O’Brien blames the wireless industry for opposing the proposal and called for the public safety community to urge Congress to remove the impediments to the proposal. “While the wireless industry might be able to get our proposal dismissed at FCC, no one can dismiss public safety’s need for a solution,” O’Brien said in the statement. “First responders around the country are sure to be upset about FCC’s action, and I expect that that anger will strengthen their determination to submit comments on our proposal and to express their support to Congress.”

-read more in Donny Jackson’s MRT report; and see Cyren Call Web site

Michael: The text below shiould be in a blue box

The end of analog television

Analog television is coming to the end of the road. The demise of analog TV has been predicted before, but now the end is in sight as more and more governments have been setting firm dates for TV operators to move to HDTV. One consequence would be the vast amounts of bandwidth which will become available for new uses.

In some cities around the world, analog TV has already been killed off (for example, Berlin in 2003; Munich in 2005; the rest of Germany will follow by 2010). In the United States, Congress has given TV operators until January 2009 to switchto HDTV and vacate the analog channels. The end-of-analog date in France is 2010. In Japan, it is 2011. The United Kingdom, which turned off analog broadcasts in one Welsh community last year as an experiment, the phasing out of analog TV will be completed by the end of 2012. After analog television is phased out, digital over-the-air transmission will be the only way to receiveg free TV signals through antennas those who receive their TV signal by cable or satellite will not notice any difference, since satellite television is already digital, and so is much of cable).

-read more in Robert Rast’s Spectrum discussion