Originally published: September 19, 2011
Last updated: September 19, 2011 - 2:23pm
[Commentary] Legislation we are working on in the House Commerce Committee provides for both commercial wireless users and our nation’s First Responders.
To meet the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the 2005 DTV Transition and Public Safety Act, which required nationwide clearing of 24 MHz of spectrum for First Responders. The Federal Communications Commission says that spectrum is sufficient to meet public safety’s needs. Now that the DTV transition is complete, we can start building the nationwide public safety network. A few public safety officials have started using some portions of the 24 MHz. They are not doing so in a nationally coordinated fashion, however. They are also using some of that spectrum for old-fashioned, narrowband voice networks. The sooner all First Responders start fully utilizing the spectrum, as well as migrate from narrowband voice to broadband, the better. The House Commerce would create a national governance structure to guarantee nationwide interoperability and help build the network throughout the country. The legislation would also help meet the growing demand for commercial broadband, creating jobs and kick-starting the economy in the process. It would do so by preserving auction of the D-block for commercial use, as required by the 2005 DTV legislation, along with other spectrum. To do otherwise would cost federal taxpayers the $2.7 billion the Congressional Budget Office has attributed to auction of the D-block. That’s money that we need right now to reduce the deficit.