Originally published: September 23, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:45am
The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing exploring the need for a nationwide public safety network. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said the country should be "ashamed that [public safety officials] lack a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband communications system." he introduced legislation that would 1) allocate 10 megahertz of spectrum known as the "D-block" to public safety to support a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network that will help keep us safe; and 2) give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to hold incentive auctions based on the voluntary return of spectrum.
There is bipartisan support atop the Senate Commerce Committee for giving the D block of spectrum to first responders, rather than trying to re-auction it, as the FCC proposed to do in its national broadband plan. Ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said she is prepared to support direct allocation. She said she was ready to work with Chairman Rockefeller, but that there were still some technical questions to sort through. She also said that Congress needed to make sure that there was sufficient funding.