Attorney General Eric Holder made another pitch Tuesday for setting aside airwaves for emergency services.
Police and fire chiefs and other public safety officials have been pushing Congress to pass a Senate Commerce bill that would reallocate a chunk of spectrum known as the D-block to public safety for their network and authorize funding to build it.
Telecommunications mostly held up during Hurricane Irene Saturday and Sunday, even if power grids didn't. But a quake last week caused wireless congestion. Holder mentioned both.
"I'm proud of the pivotal role that our nation's Department of Justice continues to play in these advancing efforts, and of the essential work we are leading to ensure an effective response to emergencies ranging from industrial accidents, to natural disasters - like the earthquake and hurricane that put East Coast responders to the test just last week - and, of course, terrorist acts," Holder said in a speech to the Technologies for Critical Incident Preparedness Conference being held just outside Washington.
"We've been able to work in partnership with the White House and the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce to open a series of discussions concerning the public safety broadband network and the future of the D-Block," Holder said.
"So long as I am Attorney General, we will continue to advocate for meaningful, affordable access to radio spectrum when and where you need it. And - for as long as it takes - we'll continue to bring policymakers together with leaders from law enforcement, the broader public safety community, and the telecommunications industry to make sure you have access to the resources you need."
Holder has spoken often in recent months about the need to update public safety communications. He appeared at a June White House summit aimed at rallying support for the Senate Commerce spectrum bill.