"Good morning, everyone. It is a privilege to participate in today's legislative hearing, for it raises a number of the most critical national security and public safety needs and demands that this subcommittee could possibly address. And that is to promote the nation's public safety by ensuring multiple public safety agencies in multiple jurisdictions, including our heroic first-responders, who have reliable access to adequate wireless spectrum and interoperable equipment during times of disaster, crisis, and emergency.
"These matters are very important to me, and I empathize with the frustrations of the public safety community, being proud to have co-sponsored legislation, such as Congresswoman Harman's emergency communications bill, H.R. 3633, which helps states to supply public safety personnel with interoperable communications equipment and training.
"But, what we have now is a Tower of Babel situation of sorts, where public safety agencies operate on different and non-adjacent channels and spectrum allocations. Even though these public safety agencies, officials, and workers must communicate using a common language and with no margin for delay, these problems of interoperability have slowed response efforts considerably-- costing people their lives, their homes, and their loved ones.
"Despite the legitimate issues of how we will pay for these interoperable networks and what are the best approaches to promoting spectral efficiency and maximizing the utility of these frequencies for society, we are taking a vitally important step today by bringing this discussion draft up for a hearing, and refusing to ignore these problems or delay acting on them any longer.
"Let me also commend Ms. Eshoo and Mr. Shimkus for introducing H.R. 4829, The Next Generation 9-1-1 Preservation Act of 2010. Based on my reading of the bill, it would accelerate the migration of voice-centric 9-1-1 services and systems to IP-enabled, next-generation 9-1-1 and emergency communications services and systems. The bill would make these services universally available and accessible to all Americans, including the disabled, and those with hearing, vision, and speech impairments. Additionally, it would provide matching grant funding assistance to eligible entities, so that we can migrate more quickly to these next-generation services, the supporting IP-enabled backbones and emergency networks for those services, and the necessary software to coordinate and interconnect our numerous emergency response organizations.
"I look forward to the ensuing testimony and discussion during today's hearing. Thank you Chairman Boucher. With that, I yield back the balance of my time."