Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement as the House Energy and Commerce Committee convenes a hearing entitled "Creating an Interoperable Public Safety Network":
"Nearly 10 years after 9/11, now is the time to reallocate the D Block for public safety and to provide funding necessary for the construction of a national wireless interoperable public safety network. I request that Chairman Fred Upton and the House Energy and Commerce Committee take up H.R. 607, the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011, as soon as possible so that we can provide our nation's first responders with the tools they require to fulfill their mission. We must reallocate the D Block to public safety before the 10th anniversary of 9/11; doing so would fulfill one of the last remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations."
Also today, Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, testified before the Homeland Security Committee about the importance of reallocating the D Block to public safety. In his testimony, Hamilton said, "This is a no brainer. The people at the site of a disaster all have to be able to communicate with one another, and the Government has to allocate an additional 10 megahertz of the radio spectrum to public safety to enhance the ability to communicate in a disaster."
Note: King, along with Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and five other original co-sponsors, introduced H.R. 607 on Feb. 10. The bipartisan legislation, which now has 30 co-sponsors, has been referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The legislation is comprehensive, addressing not only spectrum allocation, but also funding for the construction of a public safety network, and governance. Funding for the construction of the network will come from auction of globally homogenized Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum. Under this legislation, there will be a single licensee for the full 20 MHz of public safety broadband spectrum.
The legislation is supported by virtually every public safety group and the seven largest governance groups in the country, including the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International City/County Management Association, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Emergency Management Association, the National Sheriffs' Association, the Major County Sheriffs' Association, the National Troopers Coalition, and the National Criminal Justice Association.