Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) took to the Senate
floor Thursday to argue for action on his bill to create a public safety first
responder network by giving them the D block of spectrum and fund it with some
of the proceeds from auction of spectrum, including from broadcasters, to the
wireless industry. It would also include incentive auction authority allowing
the FCC to compensate broadcasters for moving off.
The FCC favors auctioning the D block for a shared
public-private model, but FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said that he
would would accept whatever solution got the network funded and built
as expeditiously as possible.
There was no floor action on the bill (S. 28, the Public
Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act.), which has yet to be voted on in
committee, but Rockefeller wanted to make the point that Friday marks exactly
six months until the 10th anniversary of 9/11, where firefighters' inability to
communicate cost lives.
"With that historic date approaching, I think that it is
important that we honor the tremendous bravery of all public safety
officials. Our police. Our firefighters. Our emergency medical
technicians. And the countless others who fought that day to keep us
safe-and who work every day to protect us from harm," he said.
"The best and simplest way to honor them is to make sure we
are giving them the tools they need to be successful, to be safe and to do
their job in a way that does not expose them to needless dangers. Right
now, we're not doing that. When it comes to public safety communications, these
everyday heroes don't have the networks they need.
Rockefeller said the bill needed to get approved before that
10th anniversary, saying it was not a Republican or Democratic issue, but
simply "the right thing to do."