As expected, Senate Commerce
Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) Tuesday reintroduced his bill
authorizing spectrum auctions that would compensate broadcasters for moving off
that spectrum and pay for the creation and maintenance of a national
interoperable public safety communications network.
Focusing on the need for better emergency communications,
Verizon gave its shout-out to the bill.
"This year marks the tenth anniversary of the events of
9/11, and as a nation we must work together to ensure that the year does not
end without addressing the significant communications challenges of the
public-safety community," said Peter Davidson, senior vice president,
federal government relations, in a statement. "Verizon applauds Chairman
Rockefeller for his leadership in addressing this challenge, and we look
forward to working with Congress to provide America's first responders with the
resources they need to ensure effective, reliable communications now and in the
The news of the bill's re-introduction came on the same
day the FCC voted to establish a framework for the interoperable network,
whenever Congress allocates the money and the spectrum can be set aside for
Not surprisingly, the National Association of Broadcasters
focused on the bill's insistence that any FCC reclamation of spectrum for
broadband be truly voluntary. "NAB is grateful for the wise leadership of
Senator Rockefeller on an issue of critical importance to the millions of
viewers who rely on free and local television," said NAB President Gordon
Smith. "Broadcasters have no quarrel with incentive auctions that are
truly voluntary, and the new legislation provides sound direction for that
approach. We will work closely with Congress as it crafts spectrum legislation
that preserves the ability of local TV stations to serve our viewers."
According to Rockefeller's office, key provisions of the
"Establish a framework for the deployment of a
nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for public safety;
"Allocate 10 megahertz of spectrum, known as the "D-block," to public
"Direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop technical
and operational standards to ensure nationwide interoperability and build-out
(including in rural areas);
"Direct the FCC to establish standards that allow public safety officials,
when not using the network, to lease capacity on a secondary,
but preemptible basis to non-public safety entities, including other
governmental and commercial users; and
"Provide the FCC with incentive auction authority, which allows existing
spectrum licensees to voluntarily relinquish their airwaves in exchange for a
portion of the proceeds of the commercial auction of their spectrum... In
addition, the funds from these incentive auctions, in conjunction with funds
from the auction of other specified spectrum bands, and funds earned from
leasing the public safety network on a secondary basis, will be used to fund
the construction and maintenance of the nationwide, interoperable, wireless
broadband public safety network."
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