H.R. 607: Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011
Introduced by Rep. Peter King (R, NY-3rd), this bill supports public safety officials in their efforts to allocate the D block (10 megahertz of electromagnetic spectrum bands) directly to public safety. The bill directs that the D block be made available for public safety broadband communications rather than allowing the FCC to auction it off to the private sector. A Senate companion is expected to be introduced by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and McCain (R-AZ).
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) maintains that giving the D block to public safety would harm its own plans for a network and should be auctioned off to the private sector (the FCC would use the proceeds of the auction to help create a nationwide public safety communications network), while ensuring that first responders would have access to it in emergencies. Last Congress, ASIS wrote a letter of support to the IACP expressing concern for the FCC's plan.
Status: The Obama Administration recently announced its support for a plan that would allocate the D block to public safety agencies, though the Administration’s proposal would pay for it by auctioning off other spectrum volunteered by the nation’s broadcasters. Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a bill that falls closely in line with Administration’s plan. While there has been no activity on King’s bill, the D block issue is picking up pace in the 112th Congress and has the attention of both the House and Senate, as well as the White House.