8 Senators Urge Senate to Include T-Band in Upcoming Coronavirus Legislation
Monday, April 06, 2020 | Comments

Sen. Edward J. Markey and seven colleagues urged Senate leadership to include language that would preserve first responders’ access to T-band spectrum from 470 – 512 MHz in upcoming coronavirus economic relief legislation.

Markey previously introduced the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act, which allows police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel in 11 metropolitan areas across the county to continue to communicate with each other using T-band spectrum.

The draft legislation repeals a provision of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act that directed the FCC to auction that band of spectrum by 2021. Police and firefighters in highly populated metropolitan areas use critical 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.

“At a time when first responders already face enormous pressure and economic strain to address the pandemic, the last thing we should do is saddle them with millions of dollars in costs to needlessly alter their critical communications systems,” the senators said in a letter to Senate and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee leadership.

Also signing the letter are Sens. Bob Casey Jr., Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Dianne Feinstein, Chris Van Hollen, Benjamin Cardin and Kamala Harris.

A recent study by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that the cost of relocating T-band users to other bands of spectrum would cost between $5 and $6 billion, and for many T-band users, alternative bands of spectrum are limited or “nonexistent.”

Rep. Eliot Engel introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last year called on Congress to repeal the mandate to auction T-Band spectrum.

The full letter is here.

In a letter to lawmakers, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said any COVID-19 legislation that might include next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) funding should be restricted from states that divert 9-1-1 funds for other purposes.

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On 4/8/20, Ellis Boothe said:
Public-safety agencies have already given up frequency spectrum in the past. Why should public safety be punished again? Maybe because there is too much money to be made by the FCC and private carriers from this action.

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