Monday, June 27, 2011

Progress, But No Changes Yet, in HR-607

Rep. Greg Walden, W7EQI (L), with House Speaker John Boehner.
The next step for HR-607 is in Walden's hands. (House of
Representatives photo)

A group of New York hams met in May with the sponsor of HR-607, the bill that would create a nationwide interoperable radio service for public safety officials, but at the cost of 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz. According to participants, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) promised to have the bill amended to remove the section that deals with auctioning off spectrum below 512 MHz, and staff members later confirmed that the Congressman had made that request to Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who is chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology, Communications and the Internet (and W7EQI). The committee is now in charge of the bill. Reportedly, Walden agreed to have the section removed, but as this is written in late June, no action had yet been taken on amending the bill.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a companion bill to HR-607 -- S-1040 -- that does not call for auctioning off any spectrum below 1675 MHz. However, it would require the FCC to not renew current public safety licenses below 512 MHz unless the licensee can show that:
(A) that migration to a different spectrum band will cause considerable economic hardship to the State or local government jurisdiction in which such licensee is located;
(B) migration to a different spectrum band would adversely impact the ability of the licensee to protect and serve the community in which such licensee is located; or
(C) there are an insufficient number of frequencies above the 700 MHz band to support the land-mobile communications needs of the licensee.