Summary

A bill to establish the sense of Congress that Congress should enact, and the President should sign, bipartisan legislation to strengthen public safety and to enhance wireless communications. Read More

Status

Date Introduced
May 9, 2011

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Organizations Supporting

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) applauds the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for passing S. 911, "The Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act," under the bipartisan leadership of the committee, Chairman John D. Rockefeller, IV (WV) and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX). "For too long, the nation's first responders have not had access to a nationwide, truly interoperable, broadband network for their use. Today's action by the Senate Commerce Committee is a significant step towards this milestone," said TIA President Grant Seiffert. In its July 2004 report, the 9/11 Commission stated that "the inability to communicate was a critical element at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania, crash sites, where multiple agencies and multiple jurisdictions responded. The occurrence of this problem at three very different sites is strong evidence that compatible and adequate communications among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels remains an important problem." The Commission also called out the need for additional spectrum for public safety's use. "Nearly 10 years after 9/11 and 7 years after the Commission's findings, it's past time for the deployment of a nationwide interoperable public safety network to move forward. How to achieve this goal has been the subject of much debate over the past several years and today's action by the Senate Commerce Committee helps advance this laudable and commonsensical goal," continued Seiffert. "TIA is also pleased that this bill includes critical provisions improving spectrum management overall and providing the FCC with the authority to hold voluntary incentive spectrum auctions that are critical to ensuring the commercial sector has access to the spectrum necessary to meeting the voracious appetite for wireless devices and applications." Earlier this spring, TIA released a White Paper, "Broadband Spectrum: The Engine for Innovation, Job Growth, and Advancement of Social Priorities," highlighting in no uncertain terms the demand for additional spectrum and the critical need for more efficient allocation of this resource. "Over the past several months the attention to the need for additional spectrum for commercial use has been building. Whether it be by the FCC, which noted that the average projection for wireless data growth by 2014 was 3,506%, or 'Cisco's Global Mobile Data Forecast,' which stated that traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 92 percent from 2010 to 2015, there is a growing drum beat regarding the need for increased access to this most critical resource. Congress must act swiftly to grant the FCC this authority so that the spectrum pipeline can be filled," said Seiffert. "TIA looks forward to continuing to work with policymakers in the Administration, Congress and the FCC to advance the goals of freeing additional spectrum for commercial use and building out a nationwide interoperable public safety network." http://tiaonline.org/news_events/press_room/press_releases/2011//PR-68_TIA_Applauds_Senate_Commerce_Committee_Passage_of_.cfm

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Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison today led their Commerce Committee colleagues in sending S. 911 to the full Senate for consideration. This significant development follows several months of hard work, compromise and negotiation, and is consistent with public safety’s top priority to gain D Block allocation and federal funding necessary to realize a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. We have a long road ahead and we must stay vigilant in our grassroots effort to get the job done. Now every Senator in every state needs to be urged to co-sponsor the new Committee-backed bill, S. 911, as the full Senate takes up the measure within the next few weeks. We also urge our members to thank those Senators who voted for the bill in the Committee (see “yes” list below) for their support of public safety and to keep the pressure on those Senators who voted against the bill (see “no” list below) to change their vote. http://psc.apcointl.org/2011/06/09/apco-president-bill-carrow-responds-to-milestone-for-rockefeller-hutchison-public-safety-bill/

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In May, Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced S. 911, the Strengthening Public-safety and Enhancing Communications Through Reform, Utilization, and Modernization (SPECTRUM) Act. The bill, which would allocate 10 MHz of radio spectrum in the 700 MHz band (commonly referred to as the “D-Block”) to public safety for the purpose of building a nationwide broadband communications network, was subsequently approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and now awaits consideration by the full Senate. On July 20, the Congressional Budget Office released a cost estimate for S. 911 which found that the bill “would reduce net direct spending by $6.5 billion” over the next 10 years. According to a joint statement from Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison, “The Congressional Budget Office’s estimate reconfirms that our bill builds a robust public safety network, pays for itself, and still generates real deficit reduction. This is just another step along the path to final passage. S. 911 has strong bipartisan support, and we look forward to getting it through the Senate.” http://www.nvfc.org/media/news/d-block-bill-gaining-momentum-tell-congress-to-support-s-911/

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Creation of a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network The Problem: The widespread adoption of broadband technology brings the opportunity to revolutionize the fire service with better access to communications, firefighter health and safety information, and situational awareness. Unfortunately, a nationwide, interoperable, public safety wireless broadband network does not currently exist. The Solution: Public safety has a license for 10 MHz of spectrum and a plan to create a nationwide, interoperable, public safety wireless broadband network. Unfortunately, a truly effective system requires 20 MHz, and current federal law mandates the auction of the adjacent 10 MHz of spectrum (the “D Block”) to a commercial bidder. Senators John D. “Jay” Rockefeller, IV (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) introduced the Strengthening Public-safety and Enhancing Communications Through Reform, Utilization, and Modernization Act (S. 911) and Representative Peter King (R-NY) introduced the Broadband for First Responders Act (H.R. 607) to promote the development of a 20 MHz nationwide, interoperable, public safety broadband network by allocating the D Block directly to public safety. The bills also would provide funding for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the network. The Explanation: Explain the importance of communications interoperability and future broadband applications for the fire service. Mention the importance of having nationwide access to devices that can monitor firefighter health and safety, provide better on-scene emergency aid to the public, and provide video streaming and enhanced situational awareness to incident commanders. The “Ask:” Ask your Representatives and Senators to cosponsor H.R. 607 and S. 911, respectively. http://www.iafc.org/files/gr_legHotSheet.pdf

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The Public Safety Alliance (PSA) today applauded Ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman, and Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison, as the leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee, for their continued support in pushing for comprehensive spectrum legislation to be enacted in Congress this year for jobs, the economy, deficit reduction and public safety. Specifically, the PSA fully supports their inclusion of D block allocation to public safety and funding of the Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN) within their formal letters of recommendations to the Co-Chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “Super Committee.” In July, Waxman and his colleague Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology subcommittee, circulated comprehensive draft legislation on spectrum policy that closely mirrored S.911; Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2011, bipartisan legislation introduced by Chairman John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in the Senate. S.911 was overwhelmingly voted out of the Senate Commerce Committee in June by a 21-4 vote. Both the Waxman-Eshoo Discussion Draft and S.911 include D block allocation and funding of the PSBN. Indeed, thus far this year, at least ten different bills have been introduced that call for allocation of D block to public safety including House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY) and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson’s bill, H.R. 607; Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011, and a close companion, S.1040, as introduced by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and former Senate Commerce Committee Chairman and 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee, Senator John McCain (R-AZ). While H.R.607 has garnered 47 bipartisan co-sponsors, the bill has languished in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications and Technology subcommittee without further consideration since its introduction in March 2011. Many had called on Congress to pass legislation allocating the D block to public safety before the 10 Year Remembrance that passed on September 11, 2011, and yet others including the bipartisan co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission Tom Kean (R-NJ) and Lee Hamilton (D-NY), as well as former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (R-PA), have called on Congress to pass this legislation immediately. With the support of Chairman King and Ranking Member Bennie Thompson, Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA) Ranking Democrat on the Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications subcommittee, introduced an amendment yesterday to the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which also called for allocation of the D block to public safety. The PSA is very pleased that several committees have included this top priority in their recommendation letters to the Super Committee to spur the economy, create jobs, dramatically improve public safety communications, and help reduce the deficit, all at no additional costs to taxpayers. http://psc.apcointl.org/?s=spectrum+act&submit=Search

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CEA PRAISES SENATE SPECTRUM BILL The Senate Commerce Committee recently passed a major spectrum bill, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act (S.911), introduced by Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison. Michael Petricone, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs made the following statement in response: “The Senate Commerce Committee’s action today marks a major milestone in ensuring that our nation’s spectrum resources are put to the highest use. Authorizing the FCC to conduct incentive auctions will result in millions of dollars for the U.S. Treasury, while securing our nation’s wireless future. We urge Congress to move forward on legislation to free up additional spectrum for wireless broadband as expeditiously as possible.” CEA proposed substantial changes to the bill prior to introduction and mark-up, all of which were adopted including a shift from a focus on "receiver standards" to "receiver performance." CEA was also successful in staving off a proposed amendment that would have required all cell phone receivers to be built according to government standards developed by the FCC and NTIA. http://cea.aristotle.com/Public.aspx

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Bill Summary

A bill to establish the sense of Congress that Congress should enact, and the President should sign, bipartisan legislation to strengthen public safety and to enhance wireless communications.

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