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Engel Bill to Protect T-Band Spectrum for First-Responders Passes House

Engel Bill to Protect T-Band Spectrum for First-Responders Passes House

Congressman Eliot L. Engel issued the following statement after his legislation to preserve first responders’ access to T-Band spectrum (470-512 MHz) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 410 to 5.  Rep. Engel’s bill, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act (H.R. 451), repeals a provision of the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act which directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to auction off this band of spectrum by 2021:

“Emergency personnel in major metropolitan areas across the United States use the T-band spectrum for emergency public safety communication. It allows first responders to communicate even when cell towers, electricity or the internet are down, and allows communication deep underground in tunnels or inside concrete buildings. 

“Agencies across the country have invested millions of local, state, and federal dollars in the T-Band networks. A study by the United States Government Accountability Office found that the cost of relocating T-Band users to other bands of spectrum would cost between $5 and $6 billion, and for many T-Band users, alternative bands of spectrum are limited or ‘nonexistent.’

“The passage of our bill today marks an important step that we’ve been working towards for a long time. My hope is that the Senate will promptly pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk for his signature so that our first-responders will be able to continue using the T-Band spectrum to communicate effectively and keep us safe.”

Said Westchester County Executive George Latimer, “I want to first thank Congressman Eliot Engel for his leadership on this critically important issue, which ultimately allows thousands of brave men and women from our public safety organizations to keep us safe. If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, we have all learned that the effective communication between our police, firefighters and EMS is paramount for the continued health and safety of our residents. As we continue to move forward in controlling and managing COVID-19, the last thing we need to do is remove an essential communication channel that has been utilized successfully for many years. This House vote is an important step forward for all of our first responders, and I urge the Senate to take swift action on this measure.”