Funding Emergency Communications: Technology and Policy Considerations [October 4, 2011] [open pdf - 661KB]
"The United States has yet to find a solution that assures seamless communications among first responders and emergency personnel at the scene of a major disaster. Since September 11, 2001, when communications failures contributed to the tragedies of the day, Congress has passed several laws intended to create a nationwide emergency communications capability. [...] The 112th Congress is under renewed pressure to come to a decision about the assignment of a block of radio frequency spectrum licenses referred to as the D Block, and to provide a plan for federal support of broadband networks for emergency communications. The cost of constructing new networks (wireless and wireline) is estimated by experts to be in the tens of billions of dollars over the long term, with similarly large sums needed for maintenance and operation. Identifying money for federal support in the current climate of budget constraints provides a challenge to policy makers. The greater challenge, however, may be to assure that funds are spent effectively toward the national goals that Congress sets. [...] Legislation that has been introduced in the 112th Congress to address some of these issues includes the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act (S. 28, Rockefeller), the Broadband for Public Safety Act of 2011 (S. 1040, Lieberman), the Broadband for First Responders Act (H.R. 607, King), and the Strengthening Public-safety and Enhancing Communications Through Reform, Utilization, and Modernization (SPECTRUM) Act (S. 911, Rockefeller, as amended), the Public Safety and Wireless Innovation Act (H.R. 2482, Dingell), and parts of Title II of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (S.Amdt. 581 of S. 1323, Reid)."
CRS Report for Congress, R41842