Dear Madam Speaker and Representative McCarthy,
I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Fraternal Order of Police to urge you to repeal Section 6103 in Title VI of PL 112-96 that mandates the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction off and clear public safety communications from the critical spectrum known as the T-Band (470 MHz-512 MHz).
Our nation’s law enforcement officers in some of our largest metropolitan areas—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Washington, D.C, Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh—depend on emergency communication networks operating on the T-Band of the spectrum.
Law enforcement and other public safety agencies have used billions of dollars in Federal, State, and local taxpayer funds over the past five decades to build T-Band systems that are interoperable and meet mission-critical voice requirements. The auction of the T-Band will not cover the costs associated with public safety agencies migrating off this spectrum and, in fact, there is no place for some of these systems to go. In June of last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study on the impact of the T-Band auction and determined that, without access to the T-Band, public safety agencies may not be able to maintain communications or communications interoperability. The GAO recommended that Congress consider allowing public safety organizations to continue operating on the T-Band.
Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, has stated that the T-Band auction “could deprive first responders of their current ability to communicate by radio” and concluded that “moving forward is not viable.” Our men and women in law enforcement are serving in their communities as the COVID-19 pandemic grows—communications systems operating in 11 major jurisdictions would be compromised if the T-Band is auctioned. Congress should acknowledge these facts and repeal Section 6103 in Title VI of PL 112-96.
On behalf of the more than 355,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, thank you for considering our views on this important matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco if you need further information about the importance of the T-Band to law enforcement and other public safety agencies.