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In the 110th Congress, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a 2008 presidential contender on the GOP ticket, has reintroduced legislation, the SAVE LIVES ACT (Govtrack), to set aside 30 MHz of the 700 MHz spectrum to build a nationwide public safety broadband network, in addition to the 24 MHz already allocated for public safety agencies. Providing more spectrum to first responders was a key recommendation of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, which investigated, among other issues, communication failures between first emergency responders during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. [1]

Sen. John McCain's spectrum bill closely resembles the ideas put forth by Cyren Call. Headed by Nextel founder Morgan O'Brien, Cyren Call pioneered the idea of creating a public-private partnership to build out a nationwide interoperable public safety network in the 700 MHz band of spectrum. The company's proposal has received sustained support from the national fire, police and EMT associations. But the FCC rebuffed its proposal for Congress to reallocate 30 MHz of commercial spectrum to build the network (in addition to the 24 MHz already set aside for public safety). The Cyren Call plan would place the spectrum under the ownership of a Public Safety Broadband Trust (PTSB), which would negotiate agreements for its shared use, giving priority to public safety agencies. The trust would grant long-term access to the spectrum to private businesses that would build and maintain the network. In exchange, the businesses would get the right to share the network and sell excess capacity for commercial purposes. Cyren Call, meanwhile, would operate the network.


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  1. Lennard Kruger, Digital Television: An Overview Congressional Research Service, updated Jan. 23, 2007.

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