There is bipartisan support atop the Senate
Commerce Committee for giving the D block of spectrum to first responders,
rather than trying to re-auction it, as the FCC proposed to do in its national
Ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said
at a hearing Thursday on the issue that she was prepared to support direct
allocation. Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has already introduced a bill
to that effect, and she said she was ready to work with him, but that there
were still some technical questions to sort through.
She also said that Congress needed to make sure
that there was sufficient funding.
The FCC has signaled that it is not wedded to the
re-auction proposal and that it, too, is ready to work with Congress on
creating a network that is truly interoperable and sustainable, according to an
official speaking on background.
The FCC tried once before to auction the spectrum to create a
public-private partnership that would result in a nationwide, interoperable
communications network, but failed to interest a commercial bidder.