Utilities Feeling Left Out of the Emergency Communications Network Loop


Author: John Eggerton
Location:
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC, 20554, United States

The Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) said it was unhappy with the Federal Communications Commission for not naming a single representative of electricity, gas and water utilities to its Emergency Response Interoperability Center's Public Safety Advisory Council (ERIC PSAC), which is coming up with design and build-out plan for a public safety emergency response network.

The first meeting of the 60-member council, which includes commercial broadband and equipment providers, will be March 15. "When the FCC issued its National Broadband Plan almost a year ago, it recommended that utilities and public safety should jointly build, operate and maintain 700 MHz broadband networks," the council pointed out, and UTC nominated a reserve police lieutenant from New Jersey. "We recognize the important role that public utilities serve during emergency response efforts and their commitment to serving their communities," said an FCC spokesman. "However, under the current law, these commercial companies are not clearly defined as public safety entities that would be permitted to use the 700 MHz public safety interoperable broadband network once constructed. We currently have an open proceeding that asks about this very issue to determine how best to address their concerns. We look forward to working with public utilities on this issue going forward."

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