Public Safety: Give Us the D-Block

I reported here earlier on public safety agencies holding up spectrum owed to Sprint-Nextel. I also reported on repeated demands for even more spectrum, in spite of public safety agencies already being given an enormous chunk of the spectrum freed up by DTV.

Yesterday, a group of public safety officials met with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps and demanded even more. The public safety officials want the whole D-Block, the section of spectrum that was to be turned into a public-private venture, but failed to achieve its reserve price at auction due to extreme limitations on its use.

They should not get it. My colleague, Ryan Radia, has an upcoming On-Point detailing what is wrong with giving public safety agencies so much spectrum. Government agencies have no incentive to use spectrum efficiently, since they can just get more by demanding it. Privitization, however, would result in better public safety outcomes (not to mention opening up space for new technologies like WiMax) because private companies have an incentive to innovate and tailor their systems to the public safety agencies that would lease spectrum from them.