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White House Meeting on FirstResponder Net Scheduled With Biden, Genachowski

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D- W. Va.)
praised the White House for scheduling a meeting this Thursday (June 16) to
discuss the need to provide a nationwide interoperable broadband communications
network for first responders.

The President has already come out
in support of allocating D block spectrum to that network rather than
auctioning it to private companies, as some Republicans and the FCC's National
Broadband Plan proposed.

That allocation is central to
Rockefeller's incentive auction bill, which would allow the FCC to compensate
broadcasters for giving up spectrum, which would be auctioned to wireless
companies and part of the proceeds used to launch and operate the public safety

Scheduled to attend the meeting
are Vice President Joe Biden, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Homeland
Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Jeffrey Holder, and
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

My hope is that this meeting and
efforts by other leaders on this will help get the Public Safety Spectrum and
Wireless Innovation Act to the Senate floor for a vote," said Rockefeller.
"For the men and women who risk their lives running into burning buildings
and chase down criminals each day without hesitation, we need to get this

Rockefeller wants his bill signed
before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, having said more than once it was
unthinkable that the network had still not been built. It was one of the
recommendations of the 9/11 commission after firefighters died because they
could not relay potentially lifesaving info to each other.

The bill passed out of
Rockefeller's Commerce Committee, but still needs to get a floor vote, then be
voted on in the House or reconciled with a bill there that also seeks
allocation of the D block and creation of the network with incentive auction

In addition to paying broadcasters
to give up spectrum, the bill would compensate those who remain for moving to
make room for larger swaths of wireless spectrum, and cable operators for any
costs of accommodating those moved signals.

Republican House energy &
Commerce Committee leaders continue to push for auction rather than allocation
of the D block, which could prove an impediment to Rockefeller's 9/11 deadline,
although Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is the sponsor of the House version of the
allocation bill.