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Communication

June 28, 2010

The US federal Dept of Commerce’s NTIA has initiated a blog to discuss broadband projects funded thru the ARRA.  SRDC also works with communities on planning for infrastructure, including broadband.  However, I haven’t seen much cross-discussion between folks in our region looking at public safety communications and other aspects of essential services, so this entry last month caught my eye:

One of the key benefits of expanding broadband services in America is improved public safety communications. Fire, police, and other safety officials must be able to communicate seamlessly and reliably with one another to best prevent and respond to emergencies. New broadband applications can transform emergency response, too. For example, broadband can enable first responders to view the layout of a burning building before entering it or transmit critical video images from an accident scene.

As President Obama noted when the FCC released the National Broadband Plan in March, the Administration supports a nationwide, interoperable public safety wireless broadband network. And recognizing the need for improved public safety communications, Congress cited public safety broadband projects as a funding priority for BTOP in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. So when the FCC recently cleared the way for 21 state and local governments to deploy new public safety broadband systems, NTIA quickly responded to this significant development by providing these governments the opportunity to apply for stimulus funding to build the networks. Some of these governments may have been deterred from applying to BTOP prior to the FCC’s decision, and NTIA wanted them to have access to this extraordinary opportunity.

I know it’s a bit late if you’re seeing this for the first time, but it’s great to see that sometimes Washington, DC, can move quickly.

Applications in the second round of NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the Recovery Act, were due in late March 2010. On May 11, 2010, the FCC adopted an Order granting conditional waiver authority to various state and local governments to use 700 MHz spectrum to deploy public safety broadband systems on a local or regional basis. These governments may have previously been discouraged from filing BTOP applications because they did not have the legal authority to use the spectrum. As a result of this significant development, and given the national priority of improving public safety communications, NTIA will accept applications for infrastructure projects from the affected parties from June 1, 2010 to July 1, 2010. The agency will publish an official notice and further details in the Federal Register.

At the end of the day, the work you are doing relates to a lot of different things going on in your area.  We should all look up from our desks now and then and see who else we can help out as we meet our primary missions.

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