Friday, January 28, 2011

A Big Boost for National Emergency Network

The Obama administration will press Congress to allocate a coveted block of wireless telecommunications airwaves for the building of a nationwide emergency communications network, administration officials said Thursday, a reversal that is likely to cement support for an issue that has been the subject of disputes since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a story by Edward Wyatt at

Ever since the attacks exposed the inability of fire, police and rescue departments to talk to one another via radio in an emergency, public safety officials have pushed for the allocation of additional airwaves, also known as spectrum, for their dedicated use.

But Congress had mandated that the wireless spectrum at issue — a prime block of airwaves known as D Block — be auctioned off to a commercial wireless company, which would raise money that could then be used to help build a public safety network.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations had supported auctioning the spectrum, as had the Federal Communications Commission. Last June, the F.C.C. published a white paper saying that a better public safety communications network could be constructed at lower cost by using airwaves already dedicated to public safety, supplemented by the right to essentially take over commercial networks in an emergency.

Read more here.

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