Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Jay Rockefeller announced today that his historic legislation reshaping the communications network for first responders was approved today by the Senate Commerce Committee.
Rockefeller’s bill would build a nationwide communications network for first responders that would improve communications in rural areas and is strongly supported by national and local leaders, including many mayors and public safety officials from West Virginia. Among those attending today’s vote at the Commerce Committee was Director Jimmy Gianato of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management; Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford; and Major General James Hoyer, West Virginia Adjutant General.
“Today’s vote and the strong endorsement of the public safety network get us closer to our goal—making things safer for West Virginians, first responders and all Americans,” said Rockefeller. “I am glad that we have moved this bill out of the Committee and I intend to have conversations with leadership immediately about timing for a vote by the full Senate. In West Virginia, communications efforts are hampered by the terrain and lack of broadband access. This bill would address these hurdles and make it easier for us to respond in the event of mine disasters, flooding emergencies, and other crises our citizens face.”
Rockefeller said that final passage of the bill would probably occur in the next couple of months.
(For photographs of state officials attending the hearing with Senator Rockefeller, visit our Flickr page by clicking here. All photos are available for press use.)  
Key Provisions of S.911, the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act:
  • Establish a framework for the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for public safety.
  • Allocate 10 megahertz of spectrum to public safety.
  • Direct the FCC to establish standards that allow public safety officials, when not using the network, to lease capacity on a secondary, but preemptible basis to non-public safety entities.
  • Provide the FCC with incentive auction authority, which allows existing spectrum licensees to voluntarily relinquish their airwaves in exchange for a portion of the proceeds of the commercial auction of their spectrum. This provides new incentives for efficient use of spectrum. In addition, the funds from these incentive auctions, in conjunction with funds from the auction of other specified spectrum bands, and funds earned from leasing the public safety network on a secondary basis, will be used to fund the construction and maintenance of the nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband public safety network.
  • Direct the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to conduct cutting edge research into transformative wireless technologies.  
  • Direct surplus revenue from spectrum auctions, estimated to be more than $10 billion, to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.