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Congress Includes 700 MHz Broadband Spectrum Provisions Allowing Access by Non-Public Safety Entities


Washington, DC—Utilities and other critical infrastructure took a further step toward gaining shared access to 700 MHz public safety broadband spectrum.  Congress has reportedly agreed to include spectrum provisions within the conference report on the payroll tax, unemployment benefits and Medicare reimbursement, and those spectrum provisions would allow public safety to share access to the 700 MHz public safety broadband network under covered lease agreements that permit non-public safety users access to network capacity on a secondary basis for non-public safety services.  The conference report is expected to be passed by Congress this week and signed by President Obama.

Connie Durcsak, President and CEO of the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC), stated that “UTC is pleased that Congress has included provisions that clear the way for public safety to share access to the 700 MHz broadband spectrum with utilities and other critical infrastructure industries (CII).  UTC looks forward to passage of the legislation and working with the public safety community to promote sharing with utilities and other CII, which will promote emergency response, accelerate the deployment of 700 MHz public safety broadband networks and support national policy objectives, such as energy independence and security.”

Sharing public safety spectrum with utilities and CII promotes emergency response, particularly during hurricanes and other natural disasters when power, water and other essential services need to be restored.  As the FCC’s National Broadband Plan found, utilities and public safety have similar communications needs, including reliable communications during emergency response scenarios.  In addition, utilities and CII can help accelerate the deployment of 700 MHz public safety broadband networks because they have extensive infrastructure and other resources to contribute.  Indeed, utilities and public safety have successfully shared other spectrum bands in several states across the country.

As the founder and leading member of the Critical Infrastructure Communications Coalition (CICC), UTC continues to work with other energy, water and transportation associations to carry the message to Congress and federal agencies that private communications networks play an important role in protecting the reliability and resiliency of the nation’s electric grid and the availability of clean water, especially following emergencies when many of the public communications networks are inoperable.  The need for reliable communications networks is growing exponentially with the modernization of the grid.  UTC congratulates its members and other industry associations that contributed in the effort toward this significant achievement.

Utility telecommunications is integral to reliable and secure utility services. UTC is the premier trade association navigating the convergence of telecommunications, operations and information technology to identify, innovate and enable mission critical solutions for essential utility services.  Since 1948, UTC is the source and resource for information and communications technology (ICT) solutions, collaboration and advocacy for utilities and other critical infrastructure industries.

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