Public Safety Alliance supports funding portion of draft legislation
A coalition of first-responder organizations today expressed support for most funding mechanisms included in draft legislation, except for the notion of auctioning the 700 MHz D Block, which the group wants Congress to reallocate for a proposed nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety.
Specifically, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) said it supports language in the draft legislation that calls for proceeds from commercial auctions of spectrum from 1675–1710 MHz and 2155–2180 MHz be dedicated to help fund the deployment and operation of the proposed 700 MHz network.
“There is wide agreement that the proceeds from auctioning this 50 MHz of spectrum to commercial carriers, without auctioning the D Block, could provide sufficient federal funding to construct, maintain, and operate a 20 MHz nationwide public safety broadband network,” according to the PSA statement.
To give the proposed network a 20 MHz spectral foundation, Congress would have to reallocate the 10 MHz D Block — currently slated for a commercial auction early next year — for public-safety use, allowing those airwaves to be coupled with the 10 MHz of adjacent broadband spectrum licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST).
Reallocation of the D Block is not part of the draft legislation that was the subject of House subcommittee hearing last week. However, legislation that would reallocate the D Block to first responders has been introduced and currently has 30 co-sponsors, according to Yucel Ors, director of legislative affairs for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).
“What we would like to see is [House leaders for the two pieces of legislation] to bring the components of the two legislations together that are supported by public safety and develop a comprehensive bill that will, once and for all, solve this issue,” Ors said during an interview. “We have a clear opportunity to move forward; we’ve just got to cease it and get it done, hopefully this year.”