Public Safety Net Removed from Debt Ceiling Bill

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The debt-ceiling compromise struck by lawmakers late Sunday does not include provisions for a public safety network, unlike an earlier proposal from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The debt-ceiling compromise dropped all of Reid’s spectrum provisions.

Reid’s original plan aimed to raise billions of dollars for deficit reduction from voluntary spectrum auctions. Television group owners are cheering. They want more money for the public spectrum they now squat on for free.

“We are pleased that the negotiated debt ceiling bill…does not threaten free and local broadcasting,” said NAB President Gordon Smith in a statement.

Reid’s plan would have allocated the D Block section of spectrum for use by emergency responders and would have set aside $7 billion through fiscal 2017 for the creation of a nationwide interoperable public safety network. Debt-ceiling bills introduced last week in both the House and the Senate called for D Block reallocation and $7 billion in funding for a nationwide LTE network on 700 MHz spectrum dedicated to first responders.

More recent proposals to include funding for public service radio in the debt ceiling bill called for $4 billion less in funding than S.911, the Senate bill sponsored by Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) which would have allocated $12 billion in funding. Those proceeds would have come from auctioning off unused television frequencies. Any remainder would go to paying off the debt.

Putting LTE on 700 MHz police relays sounds good – but don’t expect broadband data to reach everyone within a 10-15 mile radius. Six 700 MHz land/mobile radio towers (similar to the Portland map, above), can’t substitute for dozens of 700 MHz commercial celltowers without sacrificing capacity and speed.

Now that the Obama administration has come around to APCO’s position on the need for a dedicated public safety network, the Republicans have now switched sides and are now blocking the proposal for a nationwide network.

Related stories on DailyWireless include; The D-Block Gamble, D-Block Gets a Hearing, National Wireless Initiative, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire, State of the Spectrum, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, Charlie’s Big Play, Phoney Spectrum Crisis?, Oregon’s $600M Public Safety Network Likely Killed, Oregon’s Public Service Network: $100M Over Budget, Bay Area 700 MHz Net in Altercation , SF Announces LTE First Responder Net, New York Cancels Statewide Wireless Network, M/A-COM to NY: We’re Good, FCC: Interoperability on 700 MHz Band, Riot in D Block,AT&T Talks Up LTE AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum, Combining AWS and 700 MHz: Why?, Cox Communciations: Out of Cellular Operations, Free Mobile Development for Cities & Governments, U.S. Wireless Growth, T-Mobile’s Secret Sauce: 2x10MHz, FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, August 4th, 2011 at 7:58 am .

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