First Responder Network and Next- Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress [November 26, 2012]   [open pdf - 440KB]

"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. Yet the United States has continued to strive for a solution that assures seamless communications among first responders and emergency personnel at the scene of a major disaster. To address this problem, Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. [Public Law] 112-96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications, and assigned additional spectrum to accommodate the new network. In addition, the act has designated federal appropriations of over $7 billion for the network and other public safety needs. These funds will be provided through new revenue from the auction of spectrum licenses. The cost of construction of a nationwide network for public safety 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. In expectation that public-private partnerships to build the new network will reduce costs to the public sector, the law has provided requirements and guidelines for shared use."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42543
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