Homeland security cited for 2006 deadline

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Members' opening statements in the House Telecommunications and Internet
Subcommittee hearing on the digital-television transition Wednesday provided one
clue to the inclusion of a hard date for the 2006 analog-spectrum giveback as
part of a draft bill produced by the committee.

While the commercial interests of wireless companies in bidding for the
returned spectrum likely played a part, post-Sept. 11 public-safety concerns for
that spectrum did, as well.

Invoking homeland security, subcommittee member Jane Harman (D. Calif.)
pointed to the firefighters in New York, blaming communications problems for the
fact that some of them were going up into the towers without any warning of the
potential for collapse. "We need spectrum freed up by 2006," she said, to make
sure nothing like that happens again.

Harman introduced The Hero Act last December, which would require channels 63
through 69 to be turned over to the government by 2006 for emergency services,
whether or not 85 percent of viewers could receive a digital
signal.

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