Public Safety Alliance Pleads For Safety Spectrum Set-Aside

The Public Safety
Alliance will be on Capitol Hill Wednesday testifying in support of a bill (HR
that would authorize paying broadcasters to give up spectrum as a way to
free it up for auctions that would, in turn, help pay for a national
interoperable broadband network.

The hearing, "Public
Safety Communications: Are the needs of our First Responders being met?"
is in the House Homeland Security Committee, and the alliance's answer will be:
Not until you create this network, which some have been pushing for since not
long after 9/11, almost a decade ago.

Members of the Association
of Public-Safety Communications Officials, National Sheriffs' Association

and the International Association of Fire Chiefs will together
"implore" Congress to pass the bill, and do so before the Sept. 11
10-year anniversary of the attacks.

The bill would allocate
the so-called D block of spectrum to freed up in the DTV transition to
public safety, rather than the current blueprint, in which the FCC auctions the
spectrum to a private entity that creates--and pays for--the network and lets
public safety use it on a priority basis. The FCC backed the auction route in
its National Broadband Plan, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said
he will support whatever gets the network built and funded as expeditiously as

There is a similar billin the Senate (S.28), re-introduced by Commerce Committee Chairman Jay
Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) ,
who pushed a similar bill in the last Congress.

In January, the FCC alsovoted to establish a framework for the interoperable network, whenever Congress
allocates the money and the spectrum can be set aside for that purpose.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.