Originally published: April 24, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:39am
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a comprehensive white paper study that builds on the National Broadband Plan recommendations to create an economically viable, technically sound, and robust interoperable public safety wireless broadband network across America.
Entitled A Broadband Network Cost Model: The Basis for Public Funding Essential to bringing Nationwide Interoperable Communications to America's First Responders, the study offers a detailed analysis of how the FCC's plan for creation and funding of the network would meet public safety's needs for accessibility, reliability, and affordability, while saving the nation approximately $18 billion or more in capital and operating expenditures over a 10-year period. The plan would also ensure true interoperability for public safety across the nation, stretching beyond large cities and metropolitan areas and into rural America.
The FCC study examines the merits of the Plan's comprehensive strategy to create a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless broadband network for first responders and other public safety agencies that accounts for sufficient capacity on a day-to-day and emergency basis; ensures interoperability; and dedicates funding to the nationwide deployment of a resilient, redundant and robust network.
A major highlight of the study's analysis shows that the FCC's recommendation to capitalize on commercial network build-out at the same time the public safety network is created would cost approximately $6.5 billion over 10 years, significantly less than the projected $15.7 billion in capital costs associated with building a stand-alone public safety network.
In addition, the FCC's analysis indicates that to build and operate a stand-alone public safety network would be substantially more expensive than a network constructed under the FCC's recommended incentive-based approach. The study projects $12 to $16 billion in network costs for upgrades and operations within the first 10 years of the network's existence, while the cost for a stand-alone public safety network over the same 10-year period is projected at $25 billion.
Some primary reasons the costs increase exponentially for a stand-alone public safety network are: (1) public safety would not be able to easily leverage commercial resources and technologies associated with the build out of the network, (2) public safety could not capitalize on existing commercial cell sites and towers, and (3) public safety could not gain access to equipment, including portable radios, at commercially competitive prices. Conversely, the FCC's plan for an incentive-based partnership to build the public safety wireless broadband network would establish a public grant funding program to pay for capital and operating expenses and would build in incentives to enable public safety to leverage commercial technologies and resources.
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