America's First Responders Need Your Help!

Support Legislation that Would Allocate the D Block Spectrum to Public Safety!

September 1, 2011

A white paper published by the Public Safety Alliance describing why the U.S. Congress should support legislation to allocate wireless spectrum to public safety. This 20 MHz of wireless spectrum would provide the framework for an ideal broadband network for first responders because it would provide enough capacity necessary to transmit mission critical real-time high resolution video, voice and data with the in-building penetration required by police, EMS and fire when responding to emergencies within residential and commercial units. The robust network would be strong and efficient enough to provide mission critical-grade communication in the case of a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency.

We usually avoid “politics.” But this is really important for residents of the U.S. As you may be aware from the recent 9/11 Commission Report Card, there is one really important action that the U.S. Congress needs to take ASAP: allocate wireless spectrum for public safety so that firemen and policemen (and other first responders) can communicate. You may not be aware that ours is one of the few countries in which there is no interoperability between emergency communications systems! This has been true for decades, but it came to everyone’s attention during 9/11, when police and firemen in New York were unable to communicate effectively. Now, 10 years after 9/11, this problem has still not been solved. Yet there is current legislation before Congress—the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act, S. 911. If this bill can pass the Senate, the House may be compelled, through public pressure, to pass it as well. It’s hard to imagine our Congress stonewalling a measure that is so important to the wellbeing of the American people during any emergency (hurricanes, floods, terrorist attacks, etc.). But we all know that money talks and can stall this kind of measure forever. So please contact your Senators and Representatives! http://psafirst.org/take-action

For more information about the issues, here’s an excerpt from a white paper by the Public Safety Alliance (an organization of police and fire chiefs, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders):

“Public safety is currently the license holder of 10 MHz of broadband-ready spectrum in the 700 MHz band. As the only remaining portion of unlicensed 700 MHz spectrum on a nationwide basis, public safety must be allocated the D Block in order to build out a 20 MHz broadband network. From a fiscal standpoint, allocating the D Block to public safety would be the most financially and nationally responsible use of the spectrum, as the build-out of a 20 MHz network split between two separate bands would cost taxpayers billions more than simply building one 20 MHz network on a singular spectral band. Allocating the D Block to public safety will allow for a nationwide interoperable broadband network on a contiguous 20 MHz spectrum swath.

Public Safety Alliance D-Block

Public Safety Alliance D-Block

The D Block is the only spectrum capable of accommodating public safety’s needs, due to the unique propagation techniques of 700 MHz spectrum. The combined 20 MHz of spectrum would provide the framework for an ideal broadband network for first responders because it would provide enough capacity necessary to transmit mission critical real-time high resolution video, voice and data with the in-building penetration required by police, EMS and fire when responding to emergencies within residential and commercial units. The robust network would be strong and efficient enough to provide mission critical-grade communication in the case of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or other emergency.”

And, here’s a link to a recent interview with the co-chairs of the 911 Commission in which they describe this legislation as one of the two most important actions that need to be taken.

My brother, Andrew Seybold, one of the world’s top consultants in wireless communications, has been donating huge amounts of his time to the first responder community to educate our legislators about this topic. Andy does this not only on his own nickel, but in ways that are contrary to his own self-interest, since many of his clients are the telcos who want the spectrum allocated to them to resell. Andy has been tied into the first responder community since he was a teenage volunteer fireman in our home town. I asked Andy for the most recent update on the legislative process. He replied:

“The push right now is to get S 911—the Rockefeller/Hutchinson bill onto the floor of the Senate. It passed in committee with a voice vote of 24-4, which is a good bi-partisan vote. We need it to come to the floor of the Senate ASAP and we believe it will pass putting a LOT of pressure on the House, where the real battle is going to be over money—always money!”

~ Andrew Seybold, Consultant and Editor, Public Safety Newsletter, Tell It Like It Is wireless communications blog, and Wireless Mobile Commentary e-newsletter

Why the urgency? We’d love to see this legislation signed, sealed, and delivered by the anniversary of 9/11!


Sign in to download the full article

1 comment


  • Patty_author
    Patricia Seybold on August 20, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.

    Good news! Thanks to the tireless work by my brother, Andrew Seybold, and the public safety community, the U.S. Congress passed this legislation in the form of an amendment to the Budget Bill late in 2011!

    The next step is implementation and ensuring that rural communities also receive the intended ancillary benefits of better access to broadband Internet access, as well..

You must be a member to comment. Sign in or create a free account.