On behalf of the approximately 12,000 members of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the IAFC supports the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (H.R. 5085) and thanks Representatives Eliot Engel, Lee Zeldin, and Peter King for introducing this legislation. Section 6301 in Title VI of P.L. 112-96 mandates that the Federal Communications Commission begin an auction of the public safety spectrum in the T-Band spectrum (470-512 MHz) by February 21, 2021 and clear public safety operations from that band within two years of auction close.
H.R. 5085 will resolve an important issue for local public safety organizations across the nation. In 11 major metropolitan areas1, local public safety organizations have spent many years and millions of federal, state and local taxpayer funds to plan and build out T-Band networks to meet mission-critical voice requirements. The results are battle-tested public safety networks designed for the operational needs of each area. These T-band networks provide resilient mission-critical voice coverage, reliability, the option for off-network unit-to-unit operations, local control, and specialized operations like paging where needed, e.g., for volunteer firefighters, and regional interoperability in large metropolitan areas. It is important to note that public safety T-Band networks protect 90 million Americans.
We thank Representatives Engel, Zeldin, and King for introducing this important legislation. By repealing the T-Band auction requirement, we ensure that local fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies will continue to be able to communicate during daily emergency operations and major incidents. We urge Congress to consider and pass this important legislation this year.
1 The affected areas are Boston; Chicago; Dallas/Ft. Worth; Washington, D.C. (including parts of Virginia and Maryland); Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City/Northeast New Jersey; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and San Francisco/Oakland.