Obama urges development of interoperable public safety network

February 16, 2011

Marquette, MI – President Barack Obama recently announced a new national wireless infrastructure initiative and called for the development of a nationwide public safety network for first responders.

In a Feb. 10 speech at Northern Michigan University, the president voiced support for re-allocating a portion of the broadband spectrum – known as “D Block” – to allow for easier communication among emergency workers.

“We’re going to … deploy a new nationwide, interoperable wireless network for first responders – making sure they’ve got the funding and the frequencies that they were promised and that they need to keep us safe,” he said.

Obama’s budget request, expected to be released Feb. 14, will call for $10.7 billion in funds to develop the network, according to a White House press release.

The move has some support from Congress. The same day as the president’s speech, Rep. Pete King (R-NY) introduced legislation that would re-allocate D Block to public safety. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

The Federal Communications Commission previously attempted to auction off D Block as part of an effort to create a public-private partnership for the emergency spectrum. The auction failed to meet its $1.3 billion reserve.