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The Public Safety Alliance urge you contact your two US Senators to ask them to support S. 911 (the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011), a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators John “Jay” Rockefeller, IV and Kay Bailey Hutchison that allocates the D Block of spectrum directly to public safety, provides sufficient funding, and establishes an effective governance structure to construct and oversee a nationwide public safety wireless broadband network.

TELL YOUR SENATORS THAT PUBLIC SAFETY OPPOSES provisions passed as part of House bill, H.R. 3630, Title IV, including:

1. A mandated give-back of 14 MHz of critical public safety narrowband 700 MHz spectrum and guard band in Section 4102, and;

2. A disproven, unworkable, and unaccountable “Administrator” governance model.

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Please take this opportunity to contact your United States senators and ask them to support public safety and our nation’s first responders by supporting S. 911. Thank you.

Supporting Documents:

PSA Letter to Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell

PSA Letter to Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi



House passed H.R. 3630; the payroll tax reduction extension legislation, this week. H.R. 3630 will include Congressman Greg Walden’s Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act of 2011 provisions as Title IV. Walden’s JOBS Act passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications subcommittee recently on a 17-6 party line vote. The JOBS Act provisions include allowance for the FCC to conduct incentive-based spectrum auctions, allocation of the D Block spectrum to public safety, and $5 billion guaranteed funding for the Public Safety Broadband Network with the potential for up to $1.5 billion more for public safety broadband, or $6.5 billion total.

While we greatly appreciate the House’s consideration of legislation to allocate D block to public safety and provide funding for the Public Safety Broadband Network, we have serious concerns about several provisions contained in the Walden JOBS Act.

700 MHz Narrowband Giveback – Representative Greg Walden’s (R – OR 02) Jumpstarting Opportunity with Broadband Spectrum (JOBS) Act of 2011 (now Title IV of H.R. 3630) would require public safety to give back 14 MHz in the 700 MHz band, which is being used for statewide and local interoperable mission-critical voice communications and guard bands to protect against harmful interference. Public safety has been fighting to get access to this spectrum for more than 15 years, and in 2009, when broadcasters finally cleared it, we have begun to aggressively deploy across the country interoperable mission-critical voice communications systems in more than 35 states and 10,000 licenses are already using it with hundreds of thousands of users that currently rely on the 700 MHz narrowband mobile radios for day-to-day operations and to respond to natural and manmade disasters. State and local governments have invested an average of between $100 - $400 million to build out these systems and many of these 700 MHz narrowband systems have come online within the last couple of years or will be coming on line with in the next year. H.R. 3630 would force public safety to vacate this spectrum five years after the Administrator certifies “the availability of standards for public safety voice over broadband.” This certification doesn’t require that the “voice over broadband” meet “mission-critical” requirements or that there be low cost “public safety voice over broadband” technology commercially available that public safety could actually purchase. So, we would have to give up reliable and proven critical interoperable communications without the assurance that public safety could actually have the mission-critical voice over broadband communications capability that we need to protect America. Also, auctioning off the guard bands will likely lead to corruption of the signal causing dangerous interference on the public safety broadband network, similar to interference issues that were caused in the 800 MHz band that so far has cost more than $5 billion to fix. States and localities have spent hundreds of millions of federal, state and local tax dollars to plan and build these networks in the past five years, and cannot justify abandoning them without a viable alternative in the next 10 years or more.

“To force public safety to give up critical communications capabilities is wholly irresponsible and dangerous. I do not oppose having public safety return some spectrum allocated to it in return for the allocation of the “D-Block;" however, I do not support language that requires public safety to return spectrum in the 700 MHz that they fought for over many years.” Senator John McCain

"Administrator" Governance model – The PSA strongly objects to provisions of the Walden JOBS Act that would set up a third-party Administrator at National Telecommunications and Information Administration. There would be a Public Safety Communications Planning Board in the Walden JOBS bill, but it’s not clear that the Administrator would be accountable to the public safety end-users or to anybody else. The Rockefeller-Hutchison bill (S. 911, Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011) envisions the creation of a public-private corporation to oversee the construction and operation of the network. Public safety and state and local government would be represented on the board of the proposed corporation, and we strongly believe this system ensures better transparency and accountability, especially to the end-users. The “administrator model” (proposed in the Walden JOBS bill) is being utilized for the current Sprint-Nextel rebanding initiative in the 800 MHz band, which has considerably delayed the process and resulted in millions of dollars being spent on legal costs. Both industry and public safety have had significant negative experience with the administrator model of governance. Furthermore, by providing the public safety broadband license for 20 MHz of prime spectrum, along with $400 million to administer the PSBN program with control of the contractual spending of $5 to $11 billion by states and localities for the build out, this model concentrates too much unchecked power and control into a single for-profit entity’s hands without any sufficient transparency, oversight or accountability. Additionally, the PSA urges Congress to maximize state and local flexibility in allowing “secondary use” of the public safety broadband network by non-public safety entities and users, as well as with respect to forming public and private partnerships that best meet their specific needs to assure sustainment of their mission-critical public safety broadband systems.

Funding of the Public Safety Broadband Network – The Walden JOBS Act proposes $5 billion dollars derived from other spectrum auctions for the construction of the PSBN, with the potential addition of up to $1.5 billion more based on a 10% percent formula of any revenue generated from auctions above the CBO estimate of $24.5 billion overall. S.1040, Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011, as introduced by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman contemplates $10 billion dollars for the network, and S.911 contemplates $11 billion dollars. The PSA believes funding must be higher than the Walden JOBS Act provides to ensure expedited build out, especially in rural America.

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