D-Block 700 MHz legislation closer to full Senate vote

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved proposed legislation that would reallocate the 700 MHz D-Block spectrum directly to public safety and provide $12 billion for the buildout of a nationwide LTE network for first responders. The approval means a full Senate vote on the legislation could come this summer.

Committee members voted 21-4 in favor of the bill, which was sponsored by Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

"We can give (first responders) the ability to share and disseminate information quickly... including fingerprints, floor plans of burning buildings, photos and video on an instant basis," Rockefeller was quoted as saying in Urgent Communications. "This is the same capacity that many teenagers have on their smartphones today. It's an embarrassing comparison."

The move is a blow to operators such as T-Mobile USA that have been lobbying for another spectrum auction of the D-Bock with priority-access provisions. Public-safety officials have been lobbying for more than a year on Capitol Hill for support of a bill to allocate spectrum and funding.

The funding of the network would come from spectrum auctions, including the spectrum TV broadcasters and other incumbent licensees would return to the FCC in exchange for financial compensation.

Another piece of the legislation calls for the creation of a "Public Safety Broadband Corporation" (PSBC) that would serve as the spectrum licensee and governing body to ensure interoperability among users of the broadband networks. The PSBC is designed to replace the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) as the licensee for existing public safety's 700 MHz broadband spectrum

For more:
- see this Urgent Communications article

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