In addition to the new pdvWireless proposal addressing longstanding issues, multiple market forces are moving in a favorable direction for the pdvWireless proposal, according to O’Brien.

FirstNet has very much popularized the advantage of LTE, the advantages of a nationwide, the advantages of economies of scale, etc.,” he said. “They’ve shown that even stodgy public safety sees that they need broadband for their future.

“However, that capability on FirstNet is not available to the utilities and critical infrastructure, at least not on a ruthless-preemption basis. They can get some other flavors of access on the network, but they can’t get the thing they want the most.

“It’s helped us that FirstNet has popularized this whole concept. And, it helps us that, as much as FirstNet might want [utilities] as customers—and you can’t blame [FirstNet] for wanting them—but I don’t think they can get them, at least not in the way that we’re looking for them.”

O’Brien said he also is encouraged by industry progress toward implementing the mission-critical-push-to-talk (MCPTT) standard on LTE networks, which has potential long-term implications for utilities that might want to deploy a private LTE system.

“When we started talking about LTE in 2014 as a substitute for LMR with mission-critical push to talk, it wasn’t nearly as credible as it is now,” O’Brien said. “Now, both Verizon and AT&T are saying that they’re going to have it by the end of the year.

“I take that with a grain of salt. But even if you add two years, three years or whatever, it means that very serious, global-type companies are saying that they’re planning on having mission-critical push-to-talk over LTE. That allows utilities to replace the aging LMR systems with a broadband network that can do multi-purpose stuff—it can do their mission-critical push to talk, it can do their video, it can do their industrial IoT and all sorts of control stuff. They can eliminate the multiplicity of wireless networks they are currently experiencing, and that has helped tremendously.”

O’Brien expressed optimism about the overall vision that pdvWireless has proposed.

“The trends are with us, and we also predicted some of these trends,” O’Brien said. “We risked buying this spectrum when it really supported what I think is a dying usage. There’s no innovation going on in this narrowband space; all of the innovation, all of the economies of scale, and all of the applications that are being developed are being developed for broadband.”

Indeed, pent-up demand for private LTE systems to serve the critical-infrastructure market sector already is evident, O’Brien said.

“Frankly, there are a lot of deals in the pipeline where people are saying, ‘When can we have the 3x3 [MHz spectrum created for LTE use]?’” he said. “And we’re saying, ‘Not until we can get the FCC to approve it.’