Senator Markey Introduces “Don’t Break Up the T-Band” Act to Protect First Responders’ Spectrum
Washington (August 2, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2018, that would repeal a provision of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which directs the FCC to auction the T-band spectrum (470–512 MHz) by 2021. Emergency personnel in highly populated metropolitan areas in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere use T-Band spectrum for emergency public safety communication. Agencies across the country have invested millions of local, state, and federal dollars in the T-Band networks, which offer the reliable coverage and regional interoperability that first responders require for mission critical voice communications. Congressman Eliott Engel (NY-16) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“Every day, first responders in Massachusetts and across the country risk their lives on our behalf,” said Senator Markey. “Law-enforcement, firefighters, EMS personnel and security officials rely on T-Band spectrum to communicate with each other in hazardous situations. I am proud to introduce this legislation so that the brave men and women who keep us safe will have the resources they need to do their job.”
“Our first responders put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and Congress has a responsibility to protect them. That includes making sure our fire, police, and EMT workers have access to the T-Band spectrum so they can communicate clearly and effectively while they’re doing their jobs and don’t have to worry about their communication systems failing during an emergency situation,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to support this important legislation, and I will always do everything in my power to fight for our first responders.”
“Our first responders put their lives on the line for us every day, running towards danger rather than away from it,” said Senator Casey. “We have a duty to ensure they have all the resources they need to keep the public, and themselves, safe. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting the radio communications system utilized by first responders throughout Pennsylvania.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
“Public safety and American taxpayers have invested wisely to build out T-Band land mobile radio networks to meet mission critical voice requirements of major metropolitan jurisdictions across the country,” said Chief Tom Jenkins, President and Chairman of the Board at the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). “In addition, these LMR networks provide the option for off-network unit-to-unit operations, local control, specialized operations such as paging for volunteer firefighters, and regional interoperability in large metropolitan areas. This is why the IAFC strongly supports the Don’t Break Up the T Band Act.”
“Many of the sheriffs we represent will endure severe public safety ramifications by the auctioning of the T-Band as required by Section 6103 of Public Law 112-96,” said Jonathan F. Thompson, Executive Director and CEO of the National Sheriff’s Association. “Enactment of this legislation introduced by Senator Markey, together with H.R. 5085 introduced by Representative Engel, would repeal Section 6103 and enable public safety officers to continue use of the T-Band spectrum in which it has made significant investments of taxpayer funds to deploy mission critical communications systems.”
“Most all people in need of emergency Public Safety services just dial 9-1-1 and wait for the Calvary to arrive. However, the Calvary is directed to the location via the use of a Land Mobile Radio (LMR). This ability to communicate directly with first responders is essential in providing necessary Public Safety services,” said Joseph Griffin, Director of Operations at the Greater Boston Police Council. “Key to this communication in Eastern Massachusetts is the T-Band the 470 – 512 MHz band of radio spectrum. There are 172 Police agencies alone, as well as Fire and EMS, in Eastern Massachusetts, serving a population in excess of 3.5 million people who rely on the T Band to communicate in the delivery of emergency services. To eliminate the T Band would impact both local and interoperable communication among all emergency providers and have a devastating effect on their ability to provide vital Public Safety Services. T Band is the life blood of Massachusetts emergency communications and should be preserved at all costs.