Today, Congressman Scott Murphy (NY-20) led the New York Congressional delegation in calling on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to approve New York State's request for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding.
"Broadband Internet is critical to having the communications network necessary to keep New Yorkers safe. We must give our first responders the tools they need to do their jobs," said Rep. Murphy. "I have been a strong proponent for expanding broadband because I know that it is vital not only to our economic health, but to our public safety as well."
The BTOP program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), was created by the Recovery Act to provide grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.
The letter was also signed by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Representatives Peter King, Carolyn McCarthy, Greg Meeks, Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Charles Rangel, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, John Hall, Paul Tonko, Maurice Hinchey, Bill Owens, Michael Arcuri, Christopher Lee, and Louise Slaughter.
Below is the letter that Congressman Murphy and the New York delegation sent to Assistant Secretary Strickling:
August 20, 2010
The Honorable Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Assistant Secretary Strickling:
As representatives from New York State, we would like to thank the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for allowing recipients of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) 700 MHZ Waiver to apply for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding, which will help lay the foundation for a national interoperable public safety network. More than eight years after the catastrophic events of 9/11, our nation's first responders still lack interoperable public safety broadband communications. NTIA's re-opening of the Recovery Act's BTOP program represents a firm understanding of the importance of interoperable public safety broadband communications as we work to expand our nation's broadband capabilities and infrastructure.
The State of New York has been collaborating with New York City, Boston, and New Jersey to satisfy the interoperability requirements of the FCC's 700 MHz waiver order. This unprecedented level of support and cooperation between jurisdictions will pave the way for the seamless public safety networks being proposed.
Additionally, the State of New York and the New York Association of Counties (NYSAC), on behalf of the 57 counties outside New York City, have established a grassroots partnership to develop and increase New York's capability to support the essential communication needs of our State's first responders. We urge you to give due consideration to New York State's Public Safety Broadband application, a groundbreaking proposal that would utilize BTOP to fund deployment of a state of the art public safety broadband network. This broadband network would mark a long overdue first step to ensuring interoperable communications for the future of public safety communications. County executives from across the State have fully committed to supporting this project by leveraging their tower assets and agreeing to build-out networks in their jurisdictions, and this unprecedented level of statewide coordination has produced a proposal that will save both deployment time and money.
The New York State application satisfies the goals of re-opening the BTOP application process to improve broadband communications for public safety. The New York State project will build upon our national commitment to public safety professionals in a way that saves money, creates jobs, and establishes unprecedented coordination at the state and local levels. Given the current economic downturn, New York State's application is a model for cost efficiency while providing critical needs for the public safety community. As members of the New York Congressional Delegation, we urge NTIA to support and fund New York State's BTOP public safety application.