T-Band: Fears Rise Over FCC Mandate

(Courtesy Aaron Aupperlee, Trib Total Media, published: Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 11:26 p.m.)

A federal mandate forcing Allegheny County public safety agencies to switch radio frequencies by 2023 could cost
millions of dollars and cause catastrophic disruptions to emergency services, a county official said Wednesday.

These fears are being realized as the Federal Communications Commission, tasked with enforcing the switch,
closed public comment Tuesday on the mandate and will determine how to proceed.  “We are feverishly asking the FCC to reconsider,” said Alvin Henderson, chief of the county Department of Emergency Services. “We’re saying it is catastrophic to our operations.”

The mandate does not affect the City of Pittsburgh or several surrounding counties. Congress tucked a provision inside a 102-page bill passed in 2012 to extend tax cuts and emergency unemployment benefits that forces some public safety agencies to vacate radio frequencies between 470 and 512 megahertz, a spectrum known as the T-Band. The FCC intends to auction off the T-Band frequencies to private companies, such as wireless providers, to develop jobs, generate revenue and offset the cost of relocating public safety agencies to other bandwidths, officials said.

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