Proposed UHF Changes Affecting Public Safety

HR607 has been proposed in Congress that will allocate the D Block of 700 MHz spectrum to public safety for a national broadband public safety network. This bill is a counterpart to a Senate bill introduced by Senator Rockefeller. The D Block allocation has been supported by the Obama administration.

Section 207 of this bill requires the FCC to take back spectrum above 420 MHz and below 512 MHz used by public safety. The bill requires public safety agencies to vacate that spectrum not later than eight years after the date of enactment of the law. These public safety users are to “begin to use alternative radio spectrum licensed to public safety agencies in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands”. The Bill is silent on other users of spectrum in this band, such as businesses, utilities, radio paging companies, and others.

If enacted, the Bill requires Federal law enforcement agencies that are not using commercial services for their mobile communications to relocate to spectrum in the 700 and 800 MHz bands. The question “whose spectrum in those bands will be used” is not answered.

The Bill requires GAO to prepare a plan within 3 years after the enactment of the law for the auction of this recovered spectrum.

There is proposed a method of “Facilitation of migration” of public safety entities to 700 and 800 MHz in accordance with a migration plan developed by the FCC, public safety, under the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information.

This law will affect the EMS Med Channels, and frequencies in both the 450-470 band and the so called “T-Band” 470-512 MHz. It will also affect thousands of non-first responder state and local government agencies such as roads departments, utility departments, and others who use this band.

This legislation may have some bearing on future plans being developed for public safety/EMS communications system upgrades in your area. Click here to view the entire bill.