James Arden Barnett, Jr., Rear Admiral (Ret. Navy)
Chief, Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
Press Availability Forum
National Broadband Plan and 700 MHz Proceeding
February 25, 2010
7th Floor – South Conference Room (7B-516)
Mr. Chairman, thank you. Good morning, we appreciate you
joining us. I am pleased to join the Chairman today to
highlight major aspects of the FCC's National Broadband
Plan and how it relates to public safety and homeland
security. Please note that the information that we are
sharing on the Plan in advance of its adoption by the
Commission and prior to being delivered to Congress is laid
out in terms of “working recommendations and potential
National Wireless Broadband Network for Public Safety
Before I move into various aspects of the Plan, I would like
to follow up on the issue highlighted by the Chairman
regarding public safety spectrum, and in particular the 700
MHz broadband network. We are committed to moving
forward with a framework that will create a nationwide
interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety.
The National Broadband Plan provides us with a path to
move forward, although considerable work will remain for the
Commission and the Bureau after the Plan is released.
Police officers and firefighters must be able to talk with each
other, share data with emergency managers and transmit
critical, time-sensitive information to decision-makers at all
levels of government in any type of crisis or emergency
We believe that broadband technologies and innovations will
ultimately help us meet this challenge as a nation.
However, the creation of this network is not inevitable. It is
essential that the FCC work closely with public safety, our
federal, state and local partners and the communications
industry to make this a reality.
How do we best meet this challenge?
As the Chairman said, the path forward is dependent on the
larger broadband ecosystem that will serve the public, and
interoperability must be a core element of public safety
broadband from its inception.
We must build on what is already in place and tap into the
commercial networks and resources that now exist or are
This will lower costs for public safety, and will enable public
safety users to have access to broadband equipment that is
affordable and upgradable because it benefits from
commercial economies of scale.
The Plan includes a working recommendation that would
establish an Emergency Response and Interoperability
Center (or ERIC) to assist with network and equipment
compatibility, as well as common technical and operating
procedures for users of the spectrum. This is a new
approach for the Commission, and will draw on resources
from other expert agencies such as the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST).
By creating ERIC as part of the governing framework for the
public safety broadband network from the outset, we seek to
avoid the problems we have experienced historically with
promoting interoperability in public safety communications.
ERIC will serve as a driving force in the advancement of
interoperability standards, authentication, encryption,
roaming and priority access, and more for the public safety
broadband network. This will be an ongoing role as
broadband standards and technology evolve.
The primary goal of ERIC is: to expand public safety’s
access and use of broadband services nationwide, while
ensuring interoperability and operability.
But I want to emphasize that even while our plan envisions
partnerships between public safety and commercial entities,
and a strong federal regulatory framework focused on ERIC,
the recommendations in the Broadband Plan are really about
empowering the public safety community to control its
broadband destiny rather than relying solely on commercial
deployments, and ensuring that its networks meet public
safety requirements for hardening, coverage and other
characteristics and features.
This is why we have placed such a strong emphasis
recommended funding in the Plan.
If we are to create a truly national public safety broadband
network, commercial investment alone will be insufficient to
ensure resiliency, reliability, and geographic coverage in
rural areas, and other public safety standards.
As the Chairman said, funding continues to be the most
critical need for public safety.
The Plan may recommend that a grant funding program be
established by Congress as a potential solution to provide
support for the buildout of the public safety network, as well
as its operation and evolution, particularly in rural America.
The details on this are still being worked out, but we are
committed to pushing for ideas that will help pay for this
network and support its use by public safety.
I’d also like to say a few words about public safety’s access
to spectrum. The Chairman has explained how the Plan
may address D Block, which I know is different from the
approach many in public safety have advocated.
We remain committed to the principle that public safety must
have access to the spectrum it needs to support broadband
applications – and we firmly believe the approach outlined in
the Plan is consistent with that principle.
First, public safety will retain its full spectrum allocation in the
700 MHz band, including the 10 MHz that has been licensed
to public safety for broadband use. Nothing in the proposed
Plan changes this essential fact.
Like any Commission licensee, public safety must abide by
FCC rules and technical requirements, but the key point is
that this will continue to be public safety’s spectrum for their
Second, we have devoted much thought in the Plan to how
public safety can obtain access not just to the D Block, but to
the entire 700 MHz band. This is why we have proposed
working recommendations to enable public safety broadband
users to roam on commercial networks and obtain priority
access on terms that are reasonable and affordable.
Why is this important? Because if public safety has the
ability to roam and obtain priority access on commercial
networks, it can roam on commercial networks in areas
where public safety’s own network facilities have not yet
been built or are otherwise unavailable. And priority access
provides a means for public safety to use additional
spectrum capacity in addition to its own dedicated spectrum.
This could be critical in times of emergency, when public
safety entities may want to shift non-emergency traffic to
other networks in order to reserve their own network and
dedicated spectrum for mission-critical communications.
In the long run, though, we recognize that public safety, like
all other broadband users, will need access to more
spectrum than is available today. This is because demand
for high-bandwidth applications will increase, and we also
expect that the public safety broadband network will
eventually evolve to support mission-critical voice as well as
That is why we believe that the proposed working
recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, devoted
to reclaiming additional spectrum for broadband, are just as
important for public safety as they are for commercial
broadband providers or the public as a whole.
Reclaiming additional spectrum gives us the long-term
option of dedicating some portion of that spectrum for public
safety use. But even spectrum that is not dedicated to public
safety (and we assume that most reclaimed spectrum would
not be) can be accessible and beneficial to public safety.
Now I would like to turn to some of the other key working
recommendations that may be included in the National
Broadband Plan on public safety and homeland security
Safety and security are vital to America’s prosperity and
productivity: the ability to prevent emergencies and to
respond swiftly when they do occur. Broadband offers
transformational promise to public safety and homeland
The vision in the Plan will help bring public safety into the
broadband world, and will utilize cutting-edge technologies to
get us there. There are three major themes associated with
the vision, including:
· The ability to respond to all kinds of emergencies
through interoperable communications and in seamless
coordination with other first responders wherever
located throughout the nation; via critical voice and
content-rich data to help survivors and save lives.
· Making sure all Americans are able to reach and
access emergency services quickly, reliably and with
the ability to send and receive critical information
regardless of the mode or device used; and
· Revolutionizing the modes and methods by which
Americans are alerted and warned of dangers in an
accurate, concise and timely way.
In addition to the wireless broadband network, we are
looking at other critical areas or gaps in which we believe
broadband capabilities and technologies will benefit public
Critical Infrastructure Protection
: existing policies are
inadequate to ensure the cyber security and
survivability of our nation’s critical infrastructure; and
Emergency Communications To and from the
: Transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 and
emergency alerting is hampered by a lack of
intergovernmental coordination, as well as jurisdictional
and funding issues that limit the ability of public safety
and government agencies to fully transition to
broadband and IP-based next generation technologies.
Critical Communications Infrastructure Protection
I’d like to start with cyber security. As the public and private
sectors continue to move toward more online usage, there
has been a significant increase in cyber attacks. In 2008,
the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center recorded $265
million in reported losses for Internet users.
If cyber security is not addressed, then the transformation to
a broadband landscape in America may be hamstrung as
consumers may increasingly shy away from entrusting
increasing amounts of their personal information and
business transactions to a cyberspace that is not secure.
The Commission is taking an active role in working to secure
our Nation’s vital cyber assets and it is a key focus in the
Plan. Accordingly, the Plan may offer a potential solution in
which the Commission considers expanding FCC outage
reporting requirements currently in place for
telecommunications providers to include broadband service
providers, including Internet service providers (ISPs).
By increasing our understanding of the genesis and causes
of such attacks and how to recover quickly from them, the
timely reporting of network outages, including those caused
by cyber attacks, by ISPs will help guard against devastating
cyber attacks that could cripple broadband communications
networks regionally or even globally, and lead to devastating
results for our nation’s financial institutions and power grid,
causing a cascading negative affect on hospital and nursing
home care and normal business operations.
As part of these efforts, as you may have heard and/or
reported on from my testimony earlier this week before the
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation, the Plan includes a working recommendation
that the FCC explore the creation of a voluntary cyber
security certification process for ISPs that encourages
providers to implement enhanced cyber security measures
and best practices and other voluntary incentives.
In addition, because a disaster or public health emergency
could strike at anytime, there is a potential for broadband
networks to quickly become overloaded, slowed or disrupted
due to significantly increased use by consumers due
to workplace and school closures. To address this, the Plan
may recommend the start of an inquiry on the preparedness
of commercial networks to withstand network overloads that
occur during extraordinary circumstances, such as a
bioterrorism event or a pandemic.
This is of particular concern given how usage patterns during
a pandemic or bioterrorism event could strain broadband
networks. These types of events could undermine network
performance for critical users such as first responders and
the applications they use.
For example, slowed or disrupted networks could
dramatically impede the flow of critical time-sensitive medical
and public health information to decision-makers at all levels
of government and within the medical community, thereby
negatively impacting the public health response.
Information Flow/Prioritizing Broadband Traffic
We also believe that it is absolutely essential that the
Commission work closely with the National Communications
System, other federal partners and state governments to
develop a system of priority network access and traffic
routing for first responders and other public safety users on
broadband communications networks.
The federal government now has priority communications
service programs in place for telecommunications providers
for traditional voice communications, including both wireline
and wireless services. These programs have proven
effective over time to allow first responders, emergency
managers and health officials to get their communications
through during emergencies. Therefore, we believe it is
essential that the Commission work with its federal partners
to add broadband communications networks to this
emergency preparedness program.
Emergency Communications to and From the Public
Next Generation 9-1-1
I would next like to discuss the Plan’s working
recommendations for Next Generation 9-1-1 services and
how broadband is helping to dramatically change the
capabilities of Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) in
many parts of the country. For example, Shelby County,
Alabama, just outside of Montgomery, has made the
transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 services and is serving
as a model for other counties statewide and jurisdictions
across the country seeking to incorporate broadband
services more fully into their 9-1-1 systems.
However, there continues to be a need to provide increased
access to broadband services for the large number of state,
county and local 9-1-1 systems that do not have such
access. There are a number of reasons why this has
occurred, mostly related to the lack of broadband services in
many rural areas of the country, and the lack of long-term
funding activities that would help localities sustain and
further enhance their PSAPs.
To alleviate these roadblocks, the Plan includes a working
recommendation that Congress immediately appropriate
funding for the National Highway and Traffic Safety
Administration to analyze the cost of deploying a Next
Generation 9-1-1 system on a nationwide basis. This report
should serve as a basis for congressional action to create a
coordinated, long-term funding mechanism for the
deployment and operation of such a broadband system.
Streamlining this process will make the transition to a
nationwide Next Generation 9-1-1 system more likely.
Another recommended solution may be for Congress to
establish a federal legal and regulatory framework for the
development of Next Generation 9-1-1 that removes
jurisdictional barriers and inconsistent legacy regulations.
The FCC may, as part of the efforts to implement solutions,
consider initiating a proceeding that would address the future
roles of 9-1-1 and next generation 9-1-1 as communications
technologies, networks and architectures expand beyond
traditional voice-centric devices.
Finally, another important area in which we hope the
National Broadband Plan will have a significant impact is
emergency alerting as it relates to the implementation of the
Next Generation Emergency Alert System (or EAS).
The EAS is an important component used to notify the public
of sudden emergencies or impending disasters as part of a
comprehensive and coordinated emergency response, and
we are committed to making the system more reliable and
efficient for the benefit of the public and public safety
The National Broadband Plan includes a working
recommendation in which the Commission would initiate an
inquiry this year into the technical, legal and policy issues
associated with the development of a multi-platform Next
Generation alert system that comprehensively provides for
the delivery of alerts at the national, state, tribal and local
levels. This will help supplement all of the ways that the
public now receives their emergency information, whether it
is television or radio broadcast, cable, satellite, wireless
devices such as a cell phone or the Internet.
Ultimately, the goal is to help transform the delivery
capabilities of EAS during emergencies not only in scope
and ability to reach as many people as possible in a variety
of ways, but by geographically targeting certain populations,
such as persons with disabilities or predominantly non-
English speaking communities to receive alerts.
This concludes my briefing on aspects of the National
Broadband Plan related to public safety and homeland
security. Again, we want to thank you for your time and
attention today; and as always we appreciate your coverage.
At this time, we will take any questions that you may have.