Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), along with Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) were joined by more than 40 uniformed public safety officials and dozens more supporters to urge members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or Super Committee, to include S.911 language to allocate the D block spectrum within the 700 MHz band to public safety and to provide for $11 billion for construction of the Public Safety Broadband Network.
Congress was to blame for that shortcoming for failing to allocate new broadcast frequencies for common use by all first responders," said Gov. Tom Kean, the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission which was organized to recommend ways to prevent another terror attack.
Amid the chaos of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, emergency responders found they could not communicate with each other. That problem persists 10 years later, according to a review of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.
Broadband Network / D-Block: To fully achieve the vision of the 9/11 Commission, we believe our emergency responders must have a nationwide, interoperable public safety network that leverages new, high-speed, wireless broadband communications. As President Obama noted in his State of the Union Address, these advancements can enable a firefighter to use a handheld device to download the design of a building before arriving at the scene of an emergency. These types of capabilities have the potential to save lives.
Congress must do its part as well, which means freeing up the necessary broadband spectrum, known as D-block, to enable this network to operate. We appreciate the bipartisan Congressional leadership on this issue that crosses committees of jurisdiction, including Chairman Lieberman, Chairman Rockefeller, Chairman King and Senator McCain. We are confident that through continued cooperation with Congress, we can deliver a network that meets the needs of America's first responders whom all Americans rely upon.
The 9/11 Report Card was released today by 9/11 Commission bipartisan co-chairs, former Governor Thomas Kean (R-NJ) and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-NY). The Report Card states, “We support the immediate allocation of the D-block spectrum to public safety and the construction of a nationwide, interoperable broadband network. Because we don't know when the next attack or disaster will strike, we urge the Congress to act swiftly.”
The National Association of Counties (NACo), National League of Cities (NLC), and United States Conference of Mayors today renewed their call to Congress to reallocate 700MHz D-Block spectrum for a national interoperable broadband network for public safety.
National Association of Attorneys General Wrote: "The 112th Congress is considering the passage of several bills on D-Block wireless communication that would allocate a specific broadband spectrum to public safety, designating this bandwidth for law enforcement use - and finally creating the truly interoperable communications network that law enforcement and emergency responders have needed for decades.
We understand that Congress may take action on this important legislation prior to the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Nothing could be more appropriate than marking this solemn anniversary by making a genuine commitment to public safety communication, for this and future generations."
The constipated wireless networks in the D.C. region and beyond were a glaring example of how the country has failed to correct the shortcomings in emergency communication 10 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Disruption of cell phone service by a rare U.S. East Coast earthquake Tuesday prompted renewed calls for Congress and regulators to provide a dedicated wireless network for emergency workers.
The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that overwhelmed cellphone networks for several hours Tuesday has a group representing police officers and firefighters calling on Washington to move faster on a nationwide data network for first responders.
The nation's first Secretary of Homeland Security said Congress has "failed" America's first responders by not acting on legislation that would dedicate wireless communications spectrum to a nationwide, interoperable, public safety network and said it is unlikely anything will pass before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
As the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks approaches, another push is underway to improve communications between emergency workers.
Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV issued the following statement after provisions to authorize the Federal Communications Commission to conduct voluntary incentive auctions and create a public safety communications network for first responders were dropped from a final debt relief deal:
“I am disappointed that the House failed to make communications safer and more reliable for first responders. We had hoped that a version of our legislation would have been in the deficit package this week. Despite that setback, I will continue to fight to make sure that by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 we have this bill signed into law.”
With first responders across the country operating on different radio frequencies and unable to share critical information in real time, U.S. Senators John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) today stood with John Feal and 9/11 first responders to make a bipartisan push for Congress to pass the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act before the upcoming tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
After Sept. 11, there were widespread reports that public safety agencies responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center had trouble talking to one another. The problem: incompatible radios.
Vice President Biden speaks about the importance of creating a national public safety broadband network at a meeting with first responders, public safety advocates and Administration officials.
The limitations of current public safety communications systems became tragically apparent on 9/11 and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  In those critical moments, law enforcement, firefighters, and other public safety officers could not talk to each other, putting the lives and mission of our first responders at risk. Almost ten years after 9/11, our system of public safety communications remains outdated, both from a performance and cost-effectiveness standpoint. Traditional public safety devices and networks trail well behind those provided by modern commercial cellular operators. Consequently, public safety is unable to take advantage of the sorts of innovative applications that many teenagers now take for granted.
Click HERE to read the full report announced today by Vice President Biden on how The President’s Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative can facilitate the transition to a next generation, interoperable system.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement commending Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison on passage S. 911, the SPECTRUM Act:
“As the original authors of legislation to provide the D Block to public safety users, Senator Lieberman and I are grateful that the Senate Commerce Committee once again marked up and passed out of committee legislation committing spectrum to first responders. We particularly appreciate the hard work of Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison. We hope that Majority Leader Reid will bring S. 911 to the floor swiftly to honor the many lives that were lost on 9/11 due to the inability of first responders to communicate with each other and thereby respond to the terrible tragedy that day.”
In the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans came to understand that a commitment to comprehensive improvement in our system of emergency communications is an essential element of our national security. New York City has worked tirelessly to make interoperability of emergency communications a reality, and we have made significant progress on that goal, but our efforts are necessarily limited to a local level. As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we can no longer afford to leave this issue—one of the key areas of focus of the 9/11 Commission—unaddressed. Legislation setting aside a dedicated portion of the 700 MHz spectrum for public safety officials for a nationwide interoperable network—known as the D Block—must be passed immediately to aid first responders across the country and at every level in saving countless lives and ensuring homeland security.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation announces an executive session scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. in 253 Russell Senate Office Building
Four months from now, our nation will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We will mourn the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters lost on that terrible September day.
As the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania draws near, one of the main recommendations of the 9/11 Commission remains unfulfilled: the creation of a common communications system that lets emergency responders talk to one another across jurisdictions.
Bill Would Create Nationwide Communications Network for Public Safety
Washington, D.C. - Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Committee Member John McCain (R-AZ) today moved to fulfill a remaining 9/11 commission recommendation by introducing legislation to dedicate bandwidth on the broadband spectrum for first responders.
Rockefeller said he has assurances from the FCC that it is 100% behind allocating spectrum for the public safety network rather than auctioning it for a public-private partnership, as was the FCC's initial proposal in the National Broadband Plan.
(Reuters) - The White House will support legislation ensuring a block of airwaves are used for public safety rather than going to commercial wireless providers, a senior administration official said on Thursday.
We’ve facilitated a series of discussions concerning the public safety broadband network, including the future of the D-Block. And, in partnership with the White House and the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, we’re continuing to bring together leaders from law enforcement, the broader public safety community, and industry, to determine a path forward. This is a Cabinet-level priority. It is a Justice Department priority. And I will continue to advocate for meaningful, affordable access to radio spectrum when and where you need it. This continues to be a personal priority for me.
Phil Weiser, a senior White House aide for technology and innovation, said Wednesday that the Obama administration has not taken a position on whether a valuable and controversial band of airwaves, known as the D block, should be auctioned for commercial use or handed over to public safety officials.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held the following full committee hearing titled Keeping Us Safe: The Need for a Nationwide Public Safety Network.
Have we finally reached a meaningful moment in the movement toward reallocation of the 700 MHz D-Block to public safety?
In recent weeks there has been increasing chatter on the concept of allocating to public safety the 10 MHz D-Block of 700 MHz spectrum, a topic covered in this space on numerous occasions. As has been previously reported, the FCC doesn’t have the authority to simply reallocate the D-Block to public safety — that would take an act of Congress — and the FCC has continued to move forward with its original mandate to auction off that swath of spectrum despite the miserable failure the first such auction proved to be. Well, an act of Congress — specifically the First Responders Protection Act of 2010 (S. 3625) — may be exactly what the FCC might soon get.
House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response held a hearing to investigate if the FCC's National Broadband Plan meets the needs of first responders. Witnesses for the hearing included RADM James Arden Barnett, Jr. (Ret.), Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Federal Communications Commission; Mr. Greg Schaffer, Assistant Secretary, Office of Cyber Security and Communications, Department of Homeland Security; Chief Jeff Johnson, President and Chairman of the Board, International Association of Fire Chiefs; Deputy Chief Charles F. Dowd, Communications Division, New York City Police Department; Mr. Robert A. LeGrande, II, Founder, The Digital Decision, LLC; and Mr. Eric Graham, Rural Cellular Association, Vice President for Strategic Government Relations, Cellular South, Inc.
Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, released the following statement regarding his plans to introduce the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act.
“The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act will also provide public safety with an additional 10 megahertz of spectrum to support a national, interoperable wireless broadband network that will help protect people and keep them from harm. This spectrum allocation will provide those who wear the shield with the resources they need to do their jobs. But more than that, by providing authority for incentive auctions, this legislation will offer a revenue stream to assist public safety with the construction and development of their network."
U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) today introduced legislation to provide first responders with more broadband spectrum to help them build a 21st century interoperable communications network.
This week on the Communicators, two industry insiders react to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to make more bandwidth available for an emergency communications network. Dick Mirgon of the Association for Public Safety Communications Officials explains his organization’s criticism of the FCC's approach. Ed Thomas, former chief engineer for the FCC, gives his reasons for endorsing the plan.
The strong opponents of the public auction for the D-Block argue that more spectrum (20 MHz) is needed just to be sure there is enough given the uncertainties in the build out including funding limitation.
The Kojo Nnamdi Show
Nine years after 9/11, police and fire departments are at odds with the FCC over how to achieve nationwide "interoperability": build a public safety broadband network or piggyback on commercial carriers to talk in an emergency.
Congress and the White House are considering how to respond to the call by the public safety community for guaranteed access to additional spectrum and funding to build a broadband emergency communications network.
Today, U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s “Presidential Memorandum” on broadband communications: “While I am pleased to see that the Presidential Memorandum acknowledged the need for funding for a public safety wireless communications network, I was disappointed not to see a White House endorsement for any additional spectrum to specifically be allocated for public safety."
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.
Draft legislation released this week by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) would auction off some of the nation's limited airwaves to build an $11 billion nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.
A similar plan was proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the National Broadband Plan the agency released in March. Public safety organizations have opposed this plan because they want the "D-Block" chunk of spectrum to be allocated directly to first responders, rather than auctioned off for commercial use. The House Energy and Commerce communications subpanel has a Thursday hearing scheduled on the bill.
House Energy and Commerce ranking member Joe Barton (R-Texas) says the draft "still needs substantial work," but supported the effort to use D-Block proceeds for a safety network. "As 15 of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and I said in a June 2007 letter, this is the most realistic option for making [a public safety network] a reality." The Public Safety Alliance, a coalition of safety associations, launched a public relations campaign earlier this month to stop the proposed D-Block auction, contending that the plan is "technically, competitively and operationally flawed."
Meanwhile, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, has introduced legislation to stop the auction. King has 20 co-sponsors and is seeking a way to bring companion legislation to the Senate.
Calling the D-Block "ideal" for a public safety network, King said such a network is needed during "large-scale emergencies, such as a terrorist attack."
Opposing a D-Block auction, New York Police Department Deputy Chief Charles Dowd said that sudden emergencies can cause commercial networks to become overloaded when hundreds of police and firemen within a small radius get on their radios at once. "And I get yelled at by the command staff that they can't pick up their cell phone calls," he said.
He also cited interoperability as a concern, noting that when New York City's police officers traveled south to assist in efforts during Hurricane Katrina, they had to bring radios to pass out to officers all over the area to streamline communication.
"You don't want to be in that situation," he said. "You want to be in a situation where your device works on whatever network you're on."
The mantra in the commercial mobile industry these days is: Give users more bandwidth, and they'll continually find more ways to use it and drive up capacity limits &mdash especially with the popularity of video services. Hence, the Federal Communications Commission is scrambling to find more spectrum for this broadband revolution.
Perhaps the commission, or at least FCC Chief Technologist Jon Peha, doesn't believe the same trend will happen in the public-safety sector. Peha said last week on a panel that the 10 MHz public safety already has in the 700 MHz band, coupled with roaming agreements with commercial operators, will offer enough spectrum to fill its communications needs during even major incidents.
He must not believe that application developers or other third parties are going to court the public-safety community with innovative applications largely centered on video. Just like mobile applications and services are catching on in the enterprise, it's not difficult to believe public safety continually will find more ways to increase safety and productivity using LTE services. Bring hospitals and utilities in the mix, and usage will jump significantly.
T-Mobile's Kathleen Ham said during the same panel, which was sponsored by the New America Foundation, that public-safety officials should "expand their horizons" beyond the D Block debate by looking at other spectrum opportunities already in the hands of public safety: namely the 800 MHz band, the 400 MHz band or the 4.9 GHz band — all of which would bring separate headaches because of incumbency issues and economics. But that is a position that is expected from an operator like T-Mobile that doesn't have the spectrum to deploy LTE. It would love to get its hands on D Block spectrum that doesn't have public-safety strings attached.
Unfortunately, time is running short for public safety. The FCC wants to auction D Block spectrum early next year to commercial operators that, in turn, could allow public safety to use the spectrum via roaming agreements. This week a group of public-safety organizations formalized a partnership — called the Public Safety Alliance — that will campaign to convince Congress to re-allocate the D-block spectrum directly to public safety. Some Beltway insiders believe it has to convince Congress before this fall’s elections, if the FCC’s current auction timetable remains in place.
If it isn't successful, public safety may just have to look for creative ways to find more LTE spectrum. Perhaps public-safety entities can strike a deal with WiMAX operator Clearwire, which is sitting on a vast amount of spectrum nationwide and has more than hinted that it wants to deploy the Time Division Duplex (TDD) version of LTE in the 2.6 GHz band. The operator's entire strategy is signing on wholesale customers like Sprint, Comcast and Time Warner.
But in the end, the FCC shouldn't be surprised when public safety once again comes pounding on the federal door for more spectrum.
Seven state and local government organizations yesterday asked Congress to reallocate the 700 MHz D Block for the proposed nationwide broadband network for first responders.
A massive national broadband plan the Federal Communications Commission released last month proposes creating a national framework for the taxation of digital goods and services and imposing a fee to establish and maintain a national public safety wireless broadband network.
Reactions to a proposed public safety fee on every broadband user in America vary, from support by the Consumer Federation of America to opposition by another consumer group, Free Press.
For years, the nation’s emergency officers have been plagued by the lack of interoperability between their networks, which are scattered across several different frequency bands.
Instead of waiting for the FCC to sort out the national broadband network stalemate, states are starting to take matters into their own hands. In fact, Oregon’s State Interoperability Executive Council (SEIC) just this month prepared a waiver request that seeks the FCC’s permission to build out its own public-safety broadband wireless network.
Thanks to effective marketing efforts, many people undoubtedly believe that the reason the country’s digital transition took place last year was so that government could ensure a better TV-viewing experience. The reality, of course, isn’t so altruistic.