Congress approves bill creating nationwide emergency network

Washington – The House and Senate approved a bill on Feb. 17 helping pave the way for a nationwide broadband communications network for first responders.

The bill provides the National Telecommunications and Information Administration with $7 billion to build the interoperable network and a license to use an additional 10 megahertz in the 700-megahertz spectrum commonly referred to as “D Block.” Although the public safety broadband network already had 10 megahertz of spectrum, doubling it will ensure the network will provide for the incorporation of evolving technology and not become overtaxed in an emergency, according to the bill’s sponsors.

Supporters applauded the bill’s passage, noting that, in addition to improving communication among first responders, the network could increase national security.

As part of a larger package extending payroll tax relief, the bill (H.R. 3630) now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

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