House hosts hearing on draft legislation for public safety network

June 24, 2010

Witnesses last week testified on the need for a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network as House subcommittee members worked on a bill to fund and develop the system.

The Public Safety Broadband Act -- which is in draft form and has yet to be introduced -- would require the implementation of the interoperable network, as well as fund its construction, maintenance and operation. The network, a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, would allow for nationwide communication between multiple agencies and jurisdictions.

During a June 17 hearing before the Energy and Commerce Committee's Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee, several witnesses, including a New York City communications officer and the chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission, urged Congress to push for establishment of the network and ensure its proper funding.

Another bill, the Next Generation 9-1-1 Preservation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4829), also was discussed at the hearing. That bill would help migrate next-generation communications such as texting, e-mail and video into the current voice-based 911 system.