Public safety optimistic about D Block, LTE funding
Public-safety representatives have been meeting with federal officials this week and have been encouraged by some initial positive responses, according to Charles Dowd, deputy chief with the New York Police Department.
Dowd was one of many public-safety officials that attended this morning’s hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, a proceeding that he said went “very, very well” for first responders, which are asking Congress to reallocated the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety and provide at least $10 billion to fund the deployment and maintenance of a nationwide LTE network for public safety.
“I really think we’re building critical mass on this issue,” Dowd said. “I think we’re going to get there. It’s just a matter of time.
“The bottom line is that, each day, we’re picking up more and more supporters. We’re getting a lot of bipartisan support, and it’s really starting to build for us very positively.”
Indeed, the public-safety stance has been supported publicly by the White House, and a D Block reallocation bill co-sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) — S.911 — was approved overwhelming at the committee level, causing many political observers to express the belief that the legislation would be approved by the full Senate.
But no Senate vote has been scheduled yet. Meanwhile, most Beltway sources believe that public safety’s biggest challenge will be in the House Commerce Committee, which includes members that support auctioning the D Block to commercial users and is focused on myriad deficit-related issues.
“We haven’t heard a lot from them [House Commerce Committee members], but they’re only back in session this week,” Dowd said. “We’re optimistic that, as we pick up more support, we’ll review their position and come into agreement with us.”
Tomorrow, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) will conduct a press conference observing Sunday’s 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and reiterating its appeal for D Block reallocation and funding for a dedicated LTE network for public safety.
“Later this week, the nation will recognize the 10-year remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” PSA spokesman Richard Mirgon said a prepared statement. “We will never forget the fallen heroes from the public safety community who rushed into burning buildings to save innocent victims, as well as the thousands of civilian heroes who gave their lives.
“In their memory, Congress should act on one of the final outstanding recommendations from the 9/11 Commission to give every first responder and citizen the comfort of an interoperable nationwide broadband network that is critical to saving lives during emergencies, from every day incidents to disasters and terrorist attacks. Congress must immediately pass S.911.”