Emergency Communications: Meeting Public Safety Spectrum Needs [Updated July 1, 2003]   [open pdf - 272KB]

"In evaluating the nation's emergencypreparedness and response plans,Congress has reaffirmed its concern regarding the availability of spectrum tomeet thewireless communications needs for public safety agencies. Many have voiced the need for a national plan for public safety telecommunications and spectrum management. This need is nested in the wider need for better policy and planning in spectrum management for all users and technologies. Provisions of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) instruct the Department of Homeland Security to address some of the issues concerning public safety communications. Several important policy decisions regarding spectrum use by first responders and other public safety organizations are under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The timely clearing of analog television broadcast channels intended for public safety use is the objective of H.R. 1425 (Harman). Provisions that could significantly impact emergency communications are included in S. 930, H.R. 1449, and H.R. 105, among others. Legislation that could impact the release of TV broadcast channels is proposed in H.R. 426. Future legislative initiatives in the 108th Congress could address the following areas: Interoperability. The ability to communicate effectively among wireless networks used for public safety depends on spectrum use and compatible technology. [...]. Spectrum Policy. Sufficient and appropriate spectrum is fundamental to the future of wireless communications for public safety. [...]. Technology. The availability of new broadband technologies has further increased the need for spectrum. [...]. This report focuses on keyproposals for improving wireless telecommunications for public safety and recent actions to achieve this goal; the evolving role of the Department of Homeland Security is also discussed."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31375
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