House bill to create public safety broadband network

Wednesday - 11/30/2011, 9:54am EST

By Jolie Lee
Web Editor
Federal News Radio

Two House lawmakers will introduce a bill to create a nationwide, interoperable broadband network for first responders.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2011, emergency responders found they could not communicate with each other. A decade later, that problem persists.

The Wireless Innovation and Public Safety Act of 2011 would provide the Federal Communications Commission with an incentive to auction the radio space known as the D-block and allocate the spectrum for public safety use. The bill also establishes the Public Safety Broadband Corporation, a private non-profit, to oversee the spectrum.

California Reps. Henry Waxman, Anna Eshoo and other Democratic co-sponsors of the bill, said their proposal builds on legislation introduced in the Senate in May.

Construction of a nationwide broadband network remains "critical unfinished business," said Waxman, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.

Eshoo, ranking member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said the bill recognizes the surge in mobile use. "[O]ur bill will tackle this growing demand by expanding the availability of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum," she said in a statement.

The House proposal comes as the National Institute of Standards and Technology is seeking input on a public safety broadband network. In September, NIST sought comments for wireless innovation ideas.

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