First Responders Launch Campaign for Nationwide Communications Network
Group Views FCC D Block Auction as Misguided; Calls on Congress to Act
Washington, D.C. - The Public Safety Alliance, a partnership among the nation's leading public safety associations, today announced a national advertising and grassroots campaign, calling on Congress to modify the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) proposed auction of the D Block included in its national broadband plan. The group is comprised of major national organizations representing police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies - all concerned by the lack of a nationwide interoperable communications network they desperately need to keep America safe and respond to crime, fire, emergencies, acts of terrorism and natural disasters.
“The unprecedented unity in the first-responder community demonstrates how critical this communications capability is for those who put their lives on the line everyday to protect America,” San Jose Chief of Police and Major Cities Chiefs Association President Rob Davis said. “Almost nine years since this need was tragically underscored on 9/11, it’s long overdue for Congress immediately to hold hearings and help keep America safe by providing this nationwide communications network, controlled and operated by public safety, not by commercial carriers.”
Specifically, the FCC’s National Broadband Plan calls for the auction of the 700 MHz D-Block spectrum to wireless carriers for commercial use. Public safety and numerous industry experts view the FCC’s plan for commercial carriers to build, implement and operate the system as technically, competitively and operationally flawed. The Public Safety Alliance is calling for Congressional hearings and for Congress to allocate the D-Block spectrum to public safety.
The Public Safety Alliance supports H.R. 5081, the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2010, which would allocate directly to public safety the spectrum needed to establish a nationwide interoperable communications network.
“It is mind boggling that America remains vulnerable in these days of constant communications when a text to American Idol takes precedence over our first responders’ ability to communicate with each other over common radio frequencies,” said Jeff Johnson, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Chief, and President and Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.The day-to-day potential of technologies like streaming video and wireless transmission of data to prevent crime, save lives, and respond to natural disasters and acts of terrorism is limitless. Over the next five to 10 years, demand for these technologies will skyrocket and we must provide police, fire, and EMS departments with the 21st century tools they need to be effective.
“There is no more important issue facing public safety leaders today than the use of broadband technologies by police, fire and EMS agencies," continued Johnson. "The time is now. America needs a nationwide interoperable communications network today.”
The Public Safety Alliance is a partnership among the nation's leading public safety associations, which includes the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association and the National Emergency Management Association. The partnership is operated as a program of APCO International.
The position of public safety is also supported by the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, the Council of State Governments, the International County/City Management Association, the National Council of State Legislatures, the National Criminal Justice Association and the American Public Works Association.