Walden Subcommittee Allocates D Block, Provides $6.5 Billion for Public Safety Broadband Network and Includes NG9-1-1 Funds
WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 2, 2011 – The Public Safety Alliance (PSA) announced that it is pleased that the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology subcommittee took action today to allocate 10 MHz of spectrum within the 700 MHz band, or D block, to public safety while providing up to $6.5 billion for construction of a 20 MHz nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network for our nation’s first responders.
“This is a major achievement,” says APCO International spokesman Sean Kirkendall, “to have a bill come out of the House that has D Block allocation and significant funding. Obviously, we’re going to continue to work with members of the House and Senate to address differences between the House and Senate versions and to address any public safety concerns.”
Past APCO International President Richard Mirgon says of the bill, “This last Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Technology Sub-Committee took action to review the House Republican bill on spectrum. This bill is known as the Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act of 2011, or the JOBS Act. This action is known as ‘mark up,’ in which they make changes to the bill and vote to move it out of subcommittee to the full committee. This bill was voted out on a partisan vote down party lines. As much as this bill does give us D Block spectrum and up to $6.5 billion in funding for broadband, it requires public safety to give back our spectrum in 700 that is used for narrowband, and the governance in very problematic in that it creates an independent administrator just like we have for rebanding. A positive to the bill was the amendment to add $250 million for NG9-1-1 grants, which will require a 20% match and that 9-1-1 funds have not been diverted.
“The task before us is to find a path forward in cleaning up this House version of the bill to have the narrowband giveback removed along with better governance language. The PSA has been working hard over the past few days to determine what that path will be to get the changes we need so that this bill is closer in alignment with Senate Bill 911.
“Much of our success has been because of our members and their response to our calls to action. As much as there are things in the bill that we should be concerned with, it is correctable. There are several rumors on Capitol Hill as to the path this bill will take which will determine some of our next efforts but once the House side is done it will require the House and the Senate to come together on the final language. We have high expectations that the Senate will stand firm on S911, which has good governance language and does not require spectrum give back. S911 does require that there is a review of public safety spectrum use and for a plan to be developed on how to return spectrum over time and to increase public safety spectrum efficiency. This is also an extremely important part of the legislation in that we need to look at how can get as much of public safety into one single band to resolve interoperability issues. We understand that there will be a need for some VHF and UHF in the foreseeable future, but we must work together to improve how we use spectrum.”
PSA spokesman Chris Moore, chief of police for the San Jose (Calif.) Police Department stated, “Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Eshoo and all Members of the subcommittee and their staffs on both sides of the aisle have done yeoman’s work to move comprehensive spectrum legislation forward in the past year that attempts to strike a balance between the needs of commercial wireless, public safety, broadcast and other interests, and in very difficult economic times. On behalf of the more than 2 million first responders nationwide, the Public Safety Alliance greatly appreciates and applauds their tireless efforts, countless hours of study, analysis, negotiation and results.”
“As the public safety community met in New York City in December, 2009, few believed that we would be able to convince lawmakers in Washington, DC to support D block allocation at all, let alone secure legislation that provides up to $6.5 billion in funding for a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network,” added Charles Dowd, Deputy Chief of New York City Police Department, “so we are very thankful that our lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate have all come together in the committees of jurisdiction to provide funding and spectrum necessary to begin to realize this unmet and long overdue 9/11 Commission Recommendation. Clearly, Congress is listening to our nation’s law enforcement, fire, EMS, and other first responders, as well as our nation’s Governors, Mayors, technologists and other state and local government officials, and are acting on behalf of our citizens’ safety by moving this legislation forward.”
There are clear indications that negotiations will go on among committee members, their staff and with stakeholders as the JOBS bill moves to rapid mark-up in the full committee as soon as next week.
“The Public Safety Alliance is committed to working closely with Congress on the legislation to ensure that it addresses the concerns of all involved who have worked so tirelessly to make this network a reality,” stated Chief Jeff Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and former President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
For more information on a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, visit www.psafirst.org.
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About Public Safety Alliance
The Public Safety Alliance is a partnership of the nation’s leading public safety associations, which includes the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, the National Emergency Management Association and the National Association of State EMS Officials. The partnership is operated as a program of APCO International. The purpose of the Public Safety Alliance is to raise awareness in Congress and the White House about what our Nation’s law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services need to build out a nationwide, interoperable, 4G, wireless communications network to protect America. For more information on the Public Safety Alliance, visit www.psafirst.org.