Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011

I found this bit of proposed legislation by Peter King (R-NY) interesting:

Not later than 10 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the paired electromagnetic spectrum bands of 420–440 megahertz and 450–470 megahertz recovered as a result of the report and order required under subsection (c) shall be auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission through a system of competitive bidding meeting the requirements of section 309 of the Communications Act of 1934.

Will this mean broadcasters be losing their Part 74 Broadcast Auxiliary RPU licenses?  Section 74.402(4)(b)(4) lists those frequencies as 450.03125 through 450.950 and 455.03125 through 455.950 MHz in various channel configurations.  These frequencies are used mostly for RPU but are also used for TSL systems. This is the NITA frequency allocation chart.  The RPU frequencies are shared but I doubt an entity that has paid through the nose for exclusive use of a frequency band would be interested in that. Further, according to Part 97.301(a), the 70 cm Amateur Radio frequencies are from 420 to 450 MHz.  That has the Amateur Radio users quite upset, and rightly so.  I don’t know if this has filtered down to broadcasters yet, but losing RPU and TSL frequencies would likely be an inconvenience, to say the least.

What gives?  Reading through the bill, it seems there would be a multi-part shuffle over several years to move the “first responders” to a nationwide system on the 758-768 and 788-798 MHz frequencies.  The then “empty” frequencies would be auctioned off, except some of them aren’t so empty.

Does this mean that all the existing police, fire, and ambulance radios will be phased out in favor of the 700 MHz units?  Didn’t they just install a bunch of trunked 800 MHz systems recently? Wasn’t that an expensive boondoggle that still has yet to be sorted out in some locations?  Ah well, it’s only $2 billion or so taxpayers dollars, which, to fight terrorism, anything goes.

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One thought on “Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011”

  1. There was a similar motion introduced back about 15 years ago to use the Part 74 RPU and the Part 22 RCC Mobile paired frequencies for “Little LEO’s”. I threw my 2 cents worth in with an alternate plan of using a small chunk at the top and bottom of TV Channel 37 with mileage separation criteria of the earth stations. I think I got people thinking as this was/is already a “quiet zone” for radio telescope ears at Stanford and Ohio State Universities and was already allocated for space to earth communication. In any event, the proposal had many comments against, and failed to go anywhere. I always find New York, Massachusetts, and California to have some of the goofiest politicians with ideas that are sometimes off the planet! APCO-25 has been getting attention for federal funding to merge public safety radio systems into a national system incrementally. Some states like Illinois have invested multi-Millions in their STARCOM21 system which was originally designed for their State Police to get advanced capabilities along with the dumping of 42 MHz. All municipalities in Illinois are being given the sales pitch to come onto this system. It is all 800 MHz. except in congested areas south of Chicago and near the Indiana border where 700 MHz. is used. It is a very complex system with data bridges all over, T1 copper, T1 fiber, and even some short-haul microwave. Motorola was the contractor, and the system seems to work, but sometimes I wonder if the older technology was better as it was not centralized. I have always preferred simplicity which most often enhances reliability.

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