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Engel Lauds Subcommittee Passage of His Bill to Preserve the T-Band Network for First Responders

Engel Lauds Subcommittee Passage of His Bill to Preserve the T-Band Network for First Responders

Congressman Eliot L. Engel lauded passage of H.R. 451, the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act, by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.  At a press conference promoting the legislation, Rep. Engel delivered the following remarks: 

The T-Band is a critically important issue that has flown under the radar for quite some time.  But no longer.

I first introduced the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act last Congress with my colleagues Lee Zeldin, Al Green, and Peter King.

And now, thanks in part to the brave men and women standing behind us today and to public safety organizations back home in New York and all across the country, we are making real progress toward protecting the T-Band and making sure our first responders have the tools they need to keep us safe.

Our bill earned its first legislative hearing last month in a subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee. 

Earlier today, that same subcommittee passed our bill and voted to forward it up to the Full Committee. 

We have momentum.  We plan to build on that momentum and pass this legislation through the Full House and get it signed into law.

For decades, the T-Band has supported vital public safety radio communications among our first responders. It allows police, firefighters and EMS providers to communicate even when cell towers, electricity, or the internet are down. It functions deep underground in tunnels and inside concrete buildings. 

Thanks to a provision of law passed back in 2012, the FCC is required to reallocate and auction the T-Band spectrum for use by the private sector in 2021. We cannot let that happen . . . . It would endanger crucial public safety communications in Westchester … and the Bronx . . . and in major metropolitan areas across the country. 

Reallocating the T-Band would also force police, firefighters, and EMS providers to spend billions of dollars to change their systems and buy new equipment. A recent report by the GAO noted that relocating T-Band users to other bands of spectrum would cost between $5 and $6 billion—the cost to the New York area alone would be $1.4 billion—and for many T-Band users, alternative bands of spectrum are limited or nonexistent.

I don’t usually agree with FCC Chairman Pai , but we agree on this issue.  In December 2019, he wrote: “[t]he agency has extensively analyzed the T-Band and concluded that moving forward is not viable . . . I’m calling on Congress to repeal the T-Band mandate. I’m hoping that Congress can resolve this matter without delay.”

We have bipartisan support. We have bicameral support.  We have the FCC’s support. Let’s answer the call and get this done for our first responders. Thank you.