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Public Safety Groups: Allocate D Block

Public safety organizations en masse plan to tell the House
Communications Subcommittee that it is imperative they pass legislation that
allocated the D block of spectrum to public safety.

While one member of the 9/11 Commission, former Republican
Senator Slade Gorton, is arguing for auctioning the block, they plan to remind
the committee in their testimony, a copy of which was supplied to
B&C/Multi, that the chairmen of the commission, Thomas Kean and Lee
Hamilton, recently testified to Congress that that spectrum must be
immediately allocated, saying further delay was "intolerable."

In his testimony, NYPD Deputy Chief Charles Dowd says that
"every major public safety organization in the country has explicitly
rejected" the alternative of auctioning the spectrum and creating a
public-private partnership with the commercial entity building out and
maintaining the network, but turning it over to first responders in
emergencies. That is the approach Gorton is pushing.

But to allocate the spectrum, Congress has to change
the DTV transition law, which required the D block of 700 MHz
spectrum reclaimed from broadcasters already as part of the digital switch be
auctioned, not allocated.

"The need to reallocate the D block spectrum to public
safety is a view shared by agencies large and small, urban and rural, across
this country," he plans to tell the committee. The Obama administration
has proposed that D block allocation, paid for by incentive auctions as part of
the effort to reclaim more broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband.

There are already bills that would reallocate the spectrum,
including from Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY),
but the days in the current legislative calendar are dwindling if they want to
get the legislation on the books before the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

Some Republicans, including House Energy & Commerce
Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) still favor the auction route.