Police, firefighters and lobbyists ganged up on the super committee on Tuesday to hammer home their requests for a network that will let emergency responders actually communicate with one another.
A group of sheriffs and fire and police chiefs appeared at a news conference with several lawmakers to call on the super committee to include a proposal that would reallocate a swath of spectrum known as the D-block to public safety officials for a national broadband network, as well as provide funding to help build it.
The super committee is considering selling off spectrum to raise money to help pay down the deficit. But public safety groups said they want to ensure the panel doesn’t leave out public safety provisions from any package.
“We know (the super committee) is coming down to the final hours and we wanted to get in here and on their radar screen,” Sean Kirkendall, a spokesman for the Public Safety Alliance, a coalition of fire and police chiefs and other public safety officials, said in an interview.
Kirkendall said that, after meeting in the last few days with staffers for all 12 of the super committee members, public safety officials feel optimistic about their prospects.
Meanwhile, wireless industry representatives made another plea Tuesday for the super committee to include legislation authorizing incentive auctions to entice broadcasters to sell off some of their spectrum for mobile broadband. In a letter Tuesday, the Mobile Future coalition wrote the super committee to stress the potential revenues that could be generated for deficit reduction from incentive auctions.
“We urge you to consider the timely opportunity to reduce the deficit and spur lasting economic recovery and job creation by calling for voluntary auctions to make more wireless spectrum available to expand the mobile Internet,” Mobile Future Chairman Jonathan Spalter wrote.
And 125 companies and groups made another pitch to the super committee on the importance of setting aside additional unlicensed spectrum for new technologies like ultra-fast Wi-Fi.
Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and others said they worry that if the panel gives the Federal Communications Commission authority to conduct incentive auctions, that the FCC’s move last year to open up the spaces between television channels for unlicensed use could be derailed.
“We urge Congress to give the FCC the flexibility to preserve TV band spectrum for unlicensed super Wi-Fi devices and deliver innovation to American consumers and economic growth to our nation,” they wrote in the letter to the co-chairs of the super committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.