Local governments and their personnel are the
first line of defense when it comes to protecting the public from
natural or man-made disasters. Access to reliable and interference-free
public safety spectrum is an essential part of that first response.
Existing Law and Challenges
Public safety spectrum has been allocated in small sections that
lie adjacent to and in-between spectrum sections allocated for commercial
use. At times this mixed use results in interference or complete
dead zones. While using different equipment can reduce this interference,
purchasing, installing and training personnel on this equipment
is often too costly a solution for local governments.
There is enormous competition for spectrum use, especially as providers
attempt to roll out 3G, wireless video, and wireless Internet access
services, but the FCC has been reluctant to require providers to
address interference issues. Local governments have been promised
federal aid to purchase communications network equipment necessary
to respond to increased Homeland Security threats, but most of the
money has not yet been allocated. There has been an increased federal
effort to recapture spectrum for public safety use, but such recapture
not likely to happen for several years. The transition to digital
television would require broadcasters to return their analog spectrum
by 2006, but the analog spectrum return date may be pushed back
if specific digital television penetration rates have not been met.
TeleCommUnity urges Congress to support first responders by:
- Allocating adequate and sustained funding that goes directly
to local governments to manage and improve their use of the public
safety spectrum including interoperability programs.
- Setting aside interference free spectrum for public safety
uses including high speed and video transmission to and from first
For More Information
Congressional Testimony on First Responder
Interoperability: "Can You Hear Me Now?"
Presented by TeleCommUnity and National Association of Counties
Before the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittees on
National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations
and Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations
and the Census
November 6, 2003
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