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Senate Schedules Hearing on Public Safety Network

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a
hearing Sept. 23 on a nationwide public safety network, which is one
of the spectrum issues the FCC is wrestling with in the national broadband

It is also high on the list of committee Chairman
Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), who introduced a bill last month
to allocate spectrum and funding to create such a network. That bill would also
authorize incentive auctions to reimburse broadcasters for
spectrum the government plans to reclaim from them.

No witness list has been released.

A committee source said it was an exploratory
hearing rather than a mark-up on that bill.

The FCC has already tried to auction the D-Block
of spectrum to create an interoperable nationwide public safety
network, but its proposal for a public-private partnership did not draw the
requisite minimum bid. It has proposed trying again as part of the broadband plan,
but this time not obligating the D-block winner to create a public safety
partnership, though making it clear the spectrum must be available to public
safety when needed.

The 10 a.m. Sept. 23 hearing actually conflicts
with the FCC's public meeting on the same day, which will also
deal with a spectrum hearing, the use of space between TV channels by
unlicensed wireless devices.