Washington, DC, February 16, 2012 – Today, the Public Safety Alliance (PSA) applauds Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV-D), House Speaker John Boehner (OH-R), and the bipartisan House and Senate Conferees to the Payroll Tax Reduction Extension legislation that provides for a much needed nationwide interoperable Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN). This bill includes the allocation of D Block spectrum and an estimated $7 billion in funding from the proceeds of incentive auctions for its successful implementation. Creation of a nationwide 20 MHz PSBN is one of the last remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission made in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Congress is expected to vote the bill through both the House and the Senate by Friday, and have it on the President’s desk for signature and final enactment next week. The White House has consistently urged inclusion of public safety broadband and comprehensive spectrum legislation as part of the overall package, and has indicated its strong support for enactment.
Members of the Public Safety Alliance (PSA), which represents nine of the major national public safety associations, are elated by the bicameral, bipartisan leadership and support Congress has provided in successfully negotiating this solution. This legislation will modernize the emergency communications capabilities to better protect our citizens who are served by the more than 2 million first responders across the nation. Further by leveraging commercial technologies, Public Safety will be effective stewards of a scarce national asset, spectrum. This will result in future taxpayer savings at every level of government through more efficient use of spectrum. Most importantly, Congress and the Administration are making America safer as law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, emergency management and other public safety personnel finally obtain the communications tools they need to better protect our citizens and respond to emergencies each and every day.
The PSA applauds the inclusion of long sought after funding for Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1 implementation as part of the bill, and the designation of critical funding for future research and development which is necessary to support expedited development of mission-critical voice capabilities over broadband. Taken together with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan, this legislation provides public safety with a clear blueprint for realizing comprehensive interoperability of our emergency communications nationwide, and secures the path forward for public safety communications for decades to come.