Chantilly (VA) – Today the U.S. House of Representatives took a major step to protect public safety communications across our nation. By a vote of 410-5, the House voted to pass H.R. 451, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (H.R. 451).
This legislation will protect public safety communications in the T-Band (470 MHz – 512 MHz). Eleven major metropolitan areas (Boston, New York City, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco/Oakland) and their surrounding regions use the T-band for mission-critical communications and interoperable communications with other agencies.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction public safety T-Band (470-512 MHz) licenses by February 2021 and clear all public safety operations from the band within two years of auction close. H.R. 451 repeals this auction. It also would prevent states from diverting 9-1-1 fees to other purposes.
The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) issued two reports demonstrating that the loss of the T-Band would majorly disrupt the operations of public safety agencies in these areas. According to figures issued by NPSTC and confirmed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), it will cost public safety approximately $5.9 billion to move off the spectrum. In addition, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has repeatedly urged Congress to allow public safety agencies to retain their spectrum in the T-Band.
“I thank the House for passing this important legislation to protect the T-Band,” said Chief Gary Ludwig, IAFC President (2019-2020). “The T-Band has proved invaluable for public safety communications in times of crisis including after the 2013 Patriots Day bombing in Boston and now during the response to COVID-19. The 9/11 Commission report highlighted the importance of interoperable public safety communications. The cities’ large-scale investments in the T-Band to create interoperable communications systems must be protected.”
“I thank Representatives Eliot Engel, Lee Zeldin, Al Green, Peter King and the bill’s other cosponsors for their leadership on this legislation. I also thank the House Emergency and Commerce Committee Chairman, Frank Pallone, Jr., and Ranking Member, Greg Walden, and the Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman, Michael Doyle and Ranking Member, Robert Latta, for their work to pass a final bill in the House. I ask that the Senate pass this legislation as soon as possible.”
Ken LaSala, Director, Government Relations and Policy
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About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC): The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous response, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally, and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.