Allocating the D-Block—radio spectrum in the 700-MHz band (broadband spectrum)—to public safety has long been a goal of most major public safety organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO) and major equipment manufacturers. In February, as part of the payroll tax extension compromise, President Obama signed legislation allocating and funding the D-Block, which will create a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network (PSBN).
Adjacent to the D-Block is 10-MHz of spectrum already allocated to public safety. The D-Block, which was previously slated to be auctioned to the private sector, will now be preserved for public safety’s growing communications needs.
In order to figure out just how to implement the D-Block, the National Governor’s Association will convene this summer with the First Responder Network Authority, which is charged with the construction and administration of the network. There are many questions yet to be answered. For example, will states contribute to the national network or will they be responsible solely for their state’s portion? When will implementation begin?
Although there’s a lot of work yet to be done, the D-Block allocation and funding—
recommendations of the 9/11 Commission—should help to ensure that first responders are equipped with the tools and support infrastructure to carry them into a secure, real-time and data-driven future.