Senators Introduce Bill to Repeal T-Band Spectrum Auction
Friday, August 03, 2018 | Comments

Sens. Edward J. Markey, Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bob Casey and Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation that would repeal a provision of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which directs the FCC to auction the T-band spectrum (470 – 512 MHz) by 2021.

Rep. Eliott Engel and other lawmakers introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives in February.

Emergency personnel in highly populated metropolitan areas in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere use T-band spectrum for emergency public-safety communications. Agencies across the country have invested millions of local, state and federal dollars in the T-band networks, which offer the reliable coverage and regional interoperability that first responders require for mission-critical voice communications, the lawmakers said.

“Every day, first responders in Massachusetts and across the country risk their lives on our behalf,” said Sen. Markey. “Law enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel and security officials rely on T-band spectrum to communicate with each other in hazardous situations. I am proud to introduce this legislation so that the brave men and women who keep us safe will have the resources they need to do their job.”

Joseph Griffin, director of operations at the Greater Boston Police Council, said there are 172 police agencies, as well as fire and EMS in eastern Massachusetts, serving a population in excess of 3.5 million people who rely on the T-band to communicate in the delivery of emergency services. “To eliminate the T-band would impact both local and interoperable communications among all emergency providers and have a devastating effect on their ability to provide vital public-safety services,” he said. “T-band is the life blood of Massachusetts emergency communications and should be preserved at all costs.”

The National Public Safety Communications Council (NPSTC) supported the bill and said Section 6103 of Public Law 112-96 is of grave concern to the public-safety community, which deploys the T-band spectrum to support law enforcement, the fire services and EMS in top metropolitan areas where the spectrum is available.

A copy of the “Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2018” legislation is here.

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Comments
On 8/15/18, Robert Fay said:
Suggesting that the T-band should be taken back from public-safety users as a tit for tat for the 700 MHz spectrum used to construct a nationwide public-safety data network was never a valid idea. In most areas where T-band is authorized, its use is not limited to public safety, thus clearing the band for subsequent auction would require displacing thousands of non-public-safety users, which the act did not address though the FCC chose to assume that must be what the act intended. I am not sure when or how it acquired the right to interpret what a congressional act intended but since voice communications remains the killer app in public safety, where is the alternative spectrum going to come from when there is insufficient spectrum to meet the needs of public safety now? Did someone forget that the decision to authorize PLMR use of T-band was based on the lack of suitable spectrum in the first place. From my perspective, the FCC should have informed Congress that spectrum suitable for the kind of mission-critical wide-area coverage that public-safety agencies require is painfully finite, thus often insufficient to meet the growing needs — making the very idea of such a take-back ill-advised to put it mildly.

On 8/8/18, Richard Terwilliger said:
I am pleased to see this legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate. The House has the companion bill. I hope this gets passed sooner than later so this can be put to rest.

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