"In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Congress reaffirmed its concern regarding the availability of spectrum to meet the wireless communications needs for public service agencies. Issues include the amount of spectrum available, the timing of spectrum availability, interoperability, interference, technology, access, standards, and funding. The Department of Homeland Security would, as currently proposed, address some of the issues concerning spectrum policy and public safety. Several important policy decisions that would increase the amount and efficiency of spectrum used by first responders and other public safety organizations are currently under consideration by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This report focuses on key proposals for improving wireless telecommunications for public safety and recent actions to achieve this goal. Efforts by the FCC and other agencies to improve interoperability, reduce interference, and promote new technology are reviewed. Sufficient and appropriate spectrum is fundamental to the future development of wireless communications for public safety. The manner in which the spectrum is allocated is also important and this is illustrated, for example, in the problem of interference to public safety communications. This problem has opened a debate over how to reallocate spectrum not only to reduce interference but also to maximize the benefit to other users in adjacent bands. Business and industrial users, for example, are examining their need for spectrum for applications such as pipeline surveillance and some have petitioned the FCC to reclassify their licenses to reflect the public safety aspects of their private networks."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31375