Senate “Companion” Bill to HR 607 Avoids Impacting Amateur Spectrum
On Thursday, May 19, Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S 1040 -- The Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011 -- in the Senate (see below for link). While it has a similar objective to HR 607 -- introduced in February by Representative Peter King (R-NY-3) -- this Senate bill, unlike HR 607, does not call for auctioning any portions of Amateur Radio spectrum. Both bills call for the allocation of the so-called “D block” of spectrum, 758-763 and 788-793 MHz, to facilitate the development of a public safety broadband network.
On learning in February that a Senate version of HR 607 was being drafted, ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, met with staff members of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who were working on the bill to share the ARRL’s concerns with regard to HR 607. “They seemed very receptive to our argument and appreciative of the public service contributions of radio amateurs,” Sumner said. “It is gratifying to see that S 1040 avoids impacting our spectrum allocations.”
Sumner explained that while some media reports are referring to S 1040 as “the Senate version of HR 607,” it is important that radio amateurs not oppose S 1040: “There is no reason for us to do so. We support the creation of an interoperable broadband network for first responders. Other than to oppose any method that would impact amateur spectrum use, we do not support one method over another of achieving that objective. We only oppose one aspect of HR 607, not the entire bill.”
S 1040 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce, and Transportation, chaired by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). Senator Rockefeller earlier introduced his own bill, S 28, to address the same general topic. Neither Senate bill would impact amateur spectrum.