Is momentum building for D-Block reallocation?
When you watch C-SPAN and read between the lines of what some of the major players are saying, one cannot help but be optimistic about D-Block
Allocation of the D-Block — what some in public safety have called the single most important issue for first responders across all disciplines — may actually be nearing a favorable resolution. In short, there appears to be growing support for the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act of 2010 — known to policy wonks as S. 3756. For a quick review of this legislation, we turn to an explanation given by Govtrack.us, which says the bill is aimed at amending the Communications Act of 1934 “to provide public safety providers an additional 10 megahertz of spectrum to support a national, interoperable wireless broadband network and authorize the Federal Communications Commission to hold incentive auctions to provide funding to support such a network.”
So, What’s Happening?
During a public hearing on the subject held toward the end of September, Senator Jay Rockefeller — Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and the man who introduced S. 3756 in the first place — reiterated his support to use funding from commercial spectrum auctions to make a nationwide, wireless broadband network for first responders a reality. Following that hearing, the Public Safety Alliance — which represents the nation's leading public safety associations such as APCO, IACP, IAFC, and many others — announced what they believe to be a successful week of activities in Washington D.C. aimed at ensuring allocation of the D-Block to public safety.
Starting a Chain Reaction
It’s clear that PSA is still holding meetings and working the backchannels in Washington as the organization seeks additional names for the cosponsor list. Once support from one or more cosponsors happens and once that bill gets out of committee — probably when it’s reintroduced at the beginning of the 2011 session — then D-Block allocation to public safety has got a decent shot.
“We’ve come a long way,” Acting Assistant Chief Chris Moore of San Jose (Calif.) Police Department told PoliceOne via phone upon his return from Washington. “Public safety has come a long way from where we were a year and a half ago. Having said that, we’re not yet across the finish line and we have to continue to work hard to support that legislation to make sure we get the D-Block.”
Even looking at the issue with the pessimism of a jaded journalist, PSA and its many member organizations appear to have made some serious progress. So much so that optimism is beginning to really take root among the people who strongly support public safety’s acquisition of this prime communications real estate. Speaking "off the record" with a handful of people close to this issue, one cannot help but to believe good things really may soon happen.
An Uphill Slog Remains
That plan, as has been reported repeatedly in this space, proved to be totally ineffective.
If you support the effort to secure the D-Block of spectrum for public safety, you can find ways to take action on the PSA website. You can also comment below and PoliceOne will collect those comments and send them to Washington in your behalf. Meanwhile, if you’re sufficiently motivated to learn more, you can watch the two videos embedded below — parts one and two of a press conference held by PSA in the immediate aftermath of the Senate Commerce Committee meeting in September.
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