Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011 Threatens 450MHz RPU Band

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Rep. Pete King

Washington - Feb 21, 2011 - On Feb 10, 2011, Representative Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced H.R. 607, the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011. This bill, like many other similar bills now pending in the House, would provide for the construction and maintenance of a national public safety interactive broadband network in the 700MHz Public Safety bands (at 758-768MHz and 788-798MHz), and the allocation to public safety of the D-Block of spectrum (at 758-763MHz and 788-793MHz) as part of this broadband network.

However, unlike other similar bills now pending in the House and Senate, to offset the cost of construction of this network, other "public safety spectrum" would have to be given back for FCC auction to commercial entities over time. The auction proceeds will be used to offset the $2 billion that is to be set aside for the construction of the network, and the operating costs of the network after that.

In the context of encouraging the migration of Public Safety from incumbent spectrum to the 700 and 800MHz bands used by Public Safety, Section 207(d) of the Bill provides as follows:

Auction. -- Not later than 10 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the paired electromagnetic spectrum bands of 420 - 440MHz and 450 - 470MHz recovered as a result of the report and order required under subsection (c) shall be auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission through a system of competitive bidding meeting the requirements of section 309 of the Communications Act of 1934.

Section 207(d) states that within 10 years after the Act, the entirety of the paired spectrum between 420-440MHz and 450-470MHz will be auctioned by the FCC for commercial use. This includes the BAS allocation at 450-451MHz and 455-456MHz. There is no proposed replacement spectrum for displaced BAS licensees.

The bill has 10 cosponsors as of now, including: Shelley Berkley (NV), Yvette Clarke (NY), Keith Ellison (MN), Michael Grimm, (NY), Jim Langevin (RI), Billy Long (MO), Candice Miller (MI), Laura Richardson (CA), Mike Rogers (AL), and Bennie Thompson (MS).

The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The SBE has informed the House Homeland Security Committee that it is firmly opposed to the inclusion of Section 207(d) in this Bill. The SBE is actively opposing the bill in its present form in order to protect the important uses made daily by radio broadcasters in the 450-470MHz band. The SBE urges this bill to be amended without delay by the deletion of Section 207(d).

The SBE encourages members to contact your Representative and ask him/her to support deletion of section 207(d) from H.R. 607.

Complete text of H.R. 607

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