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Senator pushes for first responder wireless network

January 27, 2011

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Washington – A bill that would establish a framework for the development of a nationwide public safety wireless network was introduced Jan. 25.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act to allocate 10 megahertz of radio spectrum – known as “D-block” – to public safety.

“With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching, there’s no better way to honor the bravery of our police, firefighters and other first responders than to provide them with the communications resources they need to do their job,” Rockefeller said in a press release.

With the additional 10 MHz, public safety officials would be able to have a national, interoperable wireless broadband network to allow firefighters and other first responders to communicate with each other, regardless of the equipment each may be using.

Rockefeller introduced a similar bill last year, but it failed to become law.

FCC previously attempted to auction off D-block as part of an effort to create a public-private partnership for the emergency spectrum. That auction failed to meet its $1.3 billion reserve.

A variety of organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, support the allocation of D-block and the creation of a public safety network. “The legislation is absolutely essential to public safety,” IACP President Mark Marshall said in a press release Jan. 25.

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