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David Salway

Obama Announces Support for D-Block for Public Safety

By January 26, 2011

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The public safety community was reinvigorated with enthusiasm after the President announced support for using the D-Block for public safety.  The announcenment comes at a time where the FCC was thought to be committed to a plan to conduct a commercial auction of the 700 MHz D Block this year, as currently manadated by federal law.  However, several members of Congress, including Senator Jay Rockefeller and Senator John McCain have introduced various bills proposing to reallocate the D Block. 

The President's support of D-Block legislation will embolden public safety advocates and some commercial vendors seeking to help build a national interoperable public safety network.  However, there is more to doing this, than just D-Block legislation.  The National Broadband Plan, released by the FCC in March 2010, proposed spending up to $11 billion on a national network.  The President's proposal calls for commercial auction of portions of spectrum to be made available this year -- another one of President Obama's broadband priorities.  The Obama administration is committed to freeing 500 MHz of spectrum, and has already identified 115 MHz last year.  The funds necessary to build a national public safety network will come from the auction of the newly discovered spectrum.  The Obama national broadband public safety proposal also includes support for developing standards to build a network infrastructure using LTE technology. 

Public Safety was not the only broadband initiative mentioned by President Obama.  In his State of the Union address, delivered on January 25 2012, he said the following about broadband access:

"Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor."  - President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, January 25, 2011.


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