12:53 PM

Unused 700MHz Spectrum Should Go To Public Safety

Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg suggests state and local public-safety agencies could work with local network providers to create the robust interoperable system.

The nation's public-safety units and agencies are waiting for a comprehensive solution for obtaining efficient emergency communications, and Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg has a suggestion: Assign spectrum directly to state and local public agencies and let them create their own systems.

Seidenberg focused on the D block of spectrum that didn't sell in last year's FCC 700-MHz auction. Mentioning the potential use for the D block spectrum at this week's CTIA Wireless show, Seidenberg suggested state and local public-safety agencies could "work with local network providers to create the robust interoperable system this country needs."

Noting that his suggestion is eight years after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the Verizon CEO said, "We cannot afford to wade through another round of auctions and redundant network construction."

The D b, which had a reserve price of $1.3 billion, was the sole spectrum band that didn't attract serious bids in the 700-MHz auction, which drew nearly $20 billion in bids for wide swathes of spectrum. Verizon picked up the most spectrum in the auction, followed by AT&T.

The D block, which was originally envisioned to be set aside for both commercial and public-safety use, has been in limbo for more than a year as the FCC and Congress mull over what to do with it. Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin proposed that the D block simply be reauctioned, but with a lower reserve price of $750 million. U.S. Reps. John Dingell, D-Mich., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., also have urged that the D block be reauctioned.

Seidenberg indicated Verizon Wireless is aggressively deploying its 700-MHz spectrum in its rollout of Long Term Evolution.

"LTE is quickly emerging as the global standard. We're moving fast to get to 4G," he said in his CTIA remarks. "We will begin deployment later this year with a few commercially ready markets and will roll it out to 25 or 30 markets in 2010, with the expectation of faster rollout thereafter." Verizon Wireless is 55% owned by Verizon Communications and 45% by Vodafone Group.

Seidenberg added that the LTE deployment won't represent a major increase in capital spending for Verizon.

Tony Melone, Verizon's senior VP and CTO, told a CTIA audience that the company will use 700-MHz spectrum to deliver 4G broadband to rural areas that the company hasn't been able to reach with its existing CDMA networks, according to media reports.

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