AGs want broadband spectrum for public safety

Bryan Cohen Aug. 30, 2011, 1:59pm


HARTFORD (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and 41 other state attorneys general called on Congress Monday to allocate a specific broadband spectrum for public safety.

The attorneys general also called for the designation of the wireless bandwidth, known as D-Block, for law enforcement use.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the attorneys general said it is of dire importance to give first responders the capacity they need as field communications become more data intensive. The interruption of communications by natural disasters alone makes specific bandwidth allocation vital to public safety.

"In Connecticut, Hurricane Irene knocked out power to half the state and caused widespread interruptions in telephone and other communication services," Jepsen said. "Repeated natural disasters in recent years have driven home the need for a reliable, nationwide communication system for first responders."

The attorneys general did not endorse any one of the bills before Congress, but urged leaders of Congress to take action before the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"In the spirit of bi-partisanship, the nation's attorneys general urge you to protect citizens across all our states - by ensuring that the public safety professionals who have committed to serve and protect can effectively communicate with one another in the face of a dire emergency or attack," the letter said.

D-Block is part of the spectrum -788-793 megahertz and 768-763 megahertz - being freed up as media companies convert to digital signals. Law enforcement groups have proposed that the bandwidth be used to develop a rapid, comprehensive and reliable wireless communications system for law enforcement.

Attorneys general for Montana, Mississippi, Washington and South Dakota took the lead on this issue. The letter was issued by the National Association of Attorneys General.

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