The Congressional Fire Services Institute is urging Congress to pass legislation to repeal a provision included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that would require the T-band to be reauctioned by the FCC for commercial use.
The Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (HR 5085), introduced by Rep. Elliot Engel (D., N.Y.) last month, would repeal the provision (TR Daily, Feb. 27).
Congress required the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees, but not business/industrial entities in the spectrum. The T-band encompasses TV channels 14–20 (470–512 megahertz).
Public safety agencies use the spectrum in these 11 major markets: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington. Ninety million people live in counties that use T-band spectrum for public safety use.
In 2013, a report by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) estimated the cost of relocating public safety T-band operations to other spectrum would be more than $5.9 billion and cited the lack of alternative spectrum (TR Daily, March 15, 2013).
“Public safety organizations use the T-Band spectrum to support both day-to-day operations and regional interoperability. Because of the mission-critical nature of the communications required, local public safety organizations have spent many years and millions of dollars in federal, state, and local taxpayer funds to plan and build out T-Band networks that are tested and designed for the operational needs in each of these metropolitan areas,” the Congressional Fire Services Institute said in its legislative outlook for the second session of the 115th Congress. “It is essential for Congress to pass H.R. 5085 and preserve the T-band for public safety operations.” —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org