The U.S. House and Senate voted Friday and passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (H.R. 3630), which includes a provision dedicating a portion of the 700 MHz wireless airwaves known as the D-Block and $7 billion in funding to get a nationwide, wireless, broadband network up and running.
Efforts toward this goal have been ongoing for many years and have been backed by numerous public safety groups.
According to a press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the legislation will also do the following:
- Create an independent First Responder Network Authority to be housed under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to develop the public safety network
- Permit state efforts to develop their own networks using the same protocols as the national system
- Provide up to $300 million for RandD critical for the development of next generation public safety communications
- Preserve the opportunity for nationwide unlicensed use of spectrum known as white spaces to foster innovative new wireless technologies
“Today is monumental for all Americans and our future safety, said committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV.
“Technology and the way we communicate are rapidly changing every day bringing us closer to one another, keeping us in touch in a way like never before, and ultimately improving most people’s lives. The ultimate gift technology can give is connecting us in a way that puts safety first. There is truly nothing more important than safety. And for those courageous and selfless first responders that risk their lives to save others every single day, this is the least we can do.
“Since 9/11, we have heard from police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel that communicating in a time of crisis is absolutely critical,” Rockefeller continued. “This agreement will allow us to build a nationwide, interoperable communications network that is as reliable as the first responders that protect us. It will quite literally save lives.”