Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V) introduced legislation last week designed to reallocate the 700 MHz D-Block spectrum directly to public safety. Currently, the FCC doesn't have the authority to grant public-safety the spectrum. It is required to auction it. Previous plans have called for a public-private partnership between commercial operators and public safety. But the auction in 2008 failed to garner the minimum bid.
Rockefeller's move follows similar proposed legislation from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.). Their bill would reallocate the D Block to public safety and provide $11 billion to help fund the public-safety network, although 10 MHz of spectrum must be auctioned to commercial operators under current law.
Rockefeller's bill calls for FCC authority to conduct incentive auctions and use the auction proceeds to pay for the construction and maintenance of the public-safety network. The FCC would also have the authority to establish standards that would allow public-safety agencies to lease capacity on the network to non-public-safety entities such as other government entities and commercial operators.
"Radio spectrum is a very valuable resource," Rockefeller said in a prepared statement. "It can grow our economy and put new and innovative wireless services in the hands of consumers and businesses. It can enhance our public safety by fostering communications between first responders when the unthinkable occurs. But it is also scarce. That is why we need forward-thinking spectrum policy that promotes smart use of our airwaves - and provides public safety officials with the wireless resources they need to keep us safe.
- see this Urgent Communications article
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