By Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
n mid-April, Representative Peter King (NY-3rd) and Representative Yvette Clarke (NY-11th) introduced the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2010 (H.R. 5081), which will allocate the D Block spectrum to public safety professionals for the development of a national interoperable public safety broadband network. The IACP strongly supports this legislation.
For many years, the IACP has been a leader in promoting the development of a nationwide wireless broadband data network for law enforcement and public safety. On March 17, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent their National Broadband Plan to Congress; as a result, the IACP faces a difficult challenge.
The FCC Plan has many good aspects and does support the overall goal of implementing a nationwide public safety broadband network. However, it also supports auctioning the 700 MHz D Block spectrum solely for commercial purposes.
For the past year, the IACP has been urging Congress to pass legislation to remove the auction requirements for the D Block and allocate that spectrum to public safety. The IACP has joined the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA); the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA); the Major County Sheriffs’ Association (MCSA); the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA); the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO); and the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) in this effort.
The current challenge is that the FCC is actively promoting support for the D Block to be auctioned for commercial purposes by reaching out to governors, mayors, and county officials to reject IACP efforts to have the D Block allocated for public safety.
The FCC is promising that billions of dollars will be forthcoming to build out the nationwide network if public safety gives up its push to have the D Block allocated for public safety. In these tough economic times, any promise of money to state, local, and tribal leaders usually gets their attention and support. State, local, and tribal government leaders must be informed that this promise of funds by the FCC has not resulted in any support from Congress. Although law enforcement does need funding, it has seen no congressional leaders express their support for this funding. Law enforcement must make sure state, local, and tribal elected officials understand that it needs the D Block spectrum for the nationwide network to ensure sufficient bandwidth to serve its needs. A promise of money in exchange for the spectrum is a bad idea. Once the D Block spectrum has been auctioned for commercial purposes, it is gone forever.
Many of the national organizations that represent law enforcement’s state, local, and tribal officials, such as the National Governors Association (NGA); National Association of Counties (NACo); National Council of State Legislators (NCSL); U.S. Conference of Mayors (US Mayors); and National League of Cities (NLC), recently issued position statements in support of the reallocation of the D Block to public safety. Others organizations, including the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), also have issued supporting statements. Major companies and carriers, such as Motorola, Harris, Alcatel-Lucent, Northrop Grumman, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T, also have issued statements in support of IACP’s efforts.
The IACP is convinced that law enforcement and public safety require a minimum of 20 MHz of broadband spectrum to meet current and future needs. This includes the D Block spectrum (10 MHz) in addition to the already allocated public safety spectrum (10 MHz) that is licensed nationwide to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST). The IACP position is based on the advice of trusted engineers that 4th Generation (4G) broadband technologies will not provide the needed robust broadband network on less than 20 MHz of spectrum and on observations of the rapid expansion and use of broadband applications by the public using commercial networks. Law enforcement and public safety must have access to these new technologies to perform increasingly complicated duties. These technologies must have adequate and dedicated spectrum that is managed and controlled by public safety to ensure greater security and reliability than commercial systems.
For more information on why the D Block spectrum is so critical, please visit the IACP Web site at www.theiacp.org.
The IACP will continue to work with Congress to pass H.R. 5081 and will work with the administration and the FCC to gain common ground on a successful conclusion to this conflict. The IACP urges members’ continued support in these efforts. ■
Please cite as:
Meredith Mays, "Legislative Alert: IACP Supports Legislation Allocating D Block to Public Safety," The Police Chief 77 (May 2010): 8,
http://policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display&issue_id=52010&category_ID=5 (insert access date).