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Public safety wants 700 MHz spectrum excluded from possible DTV delay: Groups want Obama to protect spectrum destined for first responders

Public-safety organizations asked President-elect Barack Obama to exclude spectrum designated for first responders in any plan to delay the transition to digital television next month.
The Obama-Biden transition team last week asked congressional leaders to postpone the Feb. 17 DTV cut-over in light of inadequate funding for television converter boxes and other problems.
“An important benefit of the DTV transition is that it clears spectrum in the 700 MHz band for new interoperable radio communications systems for law enforcement, fire, emergency medical and other public-safety agencies,” stated the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council. “All fifty states have already received licenses to operate on portions of the new spectrum, and many agencies across the nation have already acquired radios capable of operating in the 700 MHz band. There is also at lease one and perhaps a couple other instances in which a public-safety agency has received or is currently seeking special FCC approval to utilize spectrum on a television channel being relinquished as a result of the DTV transition.”
In addition, the FCC is working on a plan to re-auction 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band as part of an effort to create a national network or a group of regional systems that would provide public-safety and commercial wireless broadband services.
Consumer groups and some Democrats favor pushing back the Feb. 17 DTV transition date. However, the mobile-phone industry – particularly wireless carriers that paid nearly $20 billion on 700 MHz licenses at a government auction last year – isn’t keen on the idea. The top Republican on the House Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), said moving the DTV transition date would be a panicky move that wastes more taxpayer dollars.
According to press reports, outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said tampering with the DTV transition deadline would create unnecessary confusion for consumers.

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