Today, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), top Democratic Member on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Communications and Technology Subcommittee discussed efforts to build a nationwide, interoperable communications network for first responders. After the hearing, Eshoo released the following statement:
"Nearly a decade after the attack on our country, we remain without a nationwide network that allows our first responders to communicate seamlessly," said Rep. Eshoo. "Over the past several years, we've grappled with the question of how to best build and maintain such a network. We need to work together to create this coast-to-coast network, and avoid the communications breakdowns we experienced during 9/11 and other national emergencies."
Last year, the FCC's National Broadband Plan recommended that a portion of wireless spectrum, commonly referred to as the 700 MHz "D-block" be auctioned, effectively creating a partnership that allows for commercial and public safety use. Since that time, others have proposed reallocating the "D-block" directly to public safety. The Subcommittee hosted this hearing on how to best utilize the spectrum available. Eshoo questioned witnesses on how to ensure that the plan is properly funded, uses the spectrum available to its maximum efficiency, and encompasses the expertise of those in the telecommunications sector.
Rep. Eshoo serves as the Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and has served as co-chair of the bipartisan and bicameral the NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. In the last Congress, she joined Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and former-Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) in cosponsoring the Next Generation Public Safety Device Act. Rep. Eshoo is reintroducing this legislation with Rep. Shimkus, which would improve competition in the public safety device market, an essential element of a nationwide interoperable network for first responders.