Ex-9/11 Commissioners Want Spectrum

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Ten former members of the 9/11 commission Wednesday called on Congress to set a hard date for the return of analog spectrum.

In a press conference in Washington, the 10, now part of the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, released a report urging action on various fronts, including getting the spectrum back from broadcasters for first responders like fireman and cops.

Broadcasters have committed to a 2009 date for returning the analog spectrum and switching to all-digital broadcasting.

Senator John McCain, who is now pushing for a hard date of Jan. 1, 2007, quoted the project's chairman former New Jersey governor Tom Kean, on the Senate floor Tuesday as saying continued interoperability problems are "outrageous. It’s a scandal and I think it cost lives.”

A group of high-tech companies, Cisco and Microsoft among them, praised the ex-commissioners' stand on spectrum.

“The High Tech DTV Coalition agrees with the conclusions drawn today that reallocating the 700 MHz spectrum for emergency public safety communications is critical unfinished business for our country,” said Janice Obuchowski, executive director of the High Tech DTV Coalition.

The House and Senate Commerce Committees are preparing to consider legislation setting a hard date (probably sometime in early to mid 2009), and McCain has also introduced a bill, the SAVE LIVES Act, that would set a hard date. Initially his date was Jan. 1, 2009, but in the wake of hurricane Katrina he wants to push it up to 2007.

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