Nation Needs D-Block To Modernize Emergency Communications

Blog » Nation Needs D-Block To Modernize Emergency Communications


Posted By: Alec Dubro, Speed Matters Policy Analyst

The September 11 attacks revealed that a coordinated response was extremely difficult because first responders from different jurisdictions used radios with different frequencies.

According to a recent report on NPR’s All Things Considered, though, 10 years later, many emergency departments are still struggling with a national patchwork system of communication. In fact, “…many first responders still lack access to the kind of technology that many Americans carry on their waistbands or in their bags.”

That’s why public safety groups — joined by the Communications Workers of America — are urging Congress to pass the D-Block legislation creating what one fire chief called “the equivalent of the national interstate freeway system.”

This legislation, the Public Safety Broadband and Wireless Innovation Act, drafted and circulated on July, 11, 2011, by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, would create a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network. Said Rep. Waxman:

“The draft legislation reflects our view on how we can best help our nation meet its current and future needs for wireless broadband spectrum and address the pressing need to provide public safety with advanced communications capabilities.”

While the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has approved D-Block legislation on June 8, 2011, many House Republicans now oppose the financial commitment — even though it would be paid for by sale of unused spectrum.


Many First Responders Still Struggle To Communicate (NPR)

Ranking Members Waxman, Eshoo Release Discussion Draft of the Public Safety Broadband and Wireless Innovation Act (Committee on Energy & Commerce)

Rockefeller Joined by West Virgina Public Safety Leaders For Approval of New Network Legislation at Commerce Committee

Category: Public Safety, Federal Legislation

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