Military airwaves at risk in public safety bill, groups say

According to Christopher Imlay, general counsel for SBE and AARL, the premise in the bill is that the two sections are used by public safety, who will get better real estate in the D Block. In other words, the legislation assumes it's a fair swap.

"That's a mistaken premise. It's not a swap," Imlay said, arguing that the the spectrum proposed for auction is used by groups other than public safety agencies — including the military, amateur radio operators and commercial radio stations.

"You're not robbing Paul to pay Paul. You're robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said. 

King's proposal is the only public safety broadband bill that plans to auction the entirety of the paired spectrum between 420 and 440 MHz and 450 and 470 MHz for commercial use, according to Imlay, who says he is communicating with the committee and the Defense Department to register his concerns. 

King told The Hill this week: "As we move forward, we will listen to and work with anyone who has an interest in this important legislation.”

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are also preparing public safety network legislation. Public safety sources say that it is held up on differences with the King bill on which airwaves should be put to auction. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) introduced public safety network legislation this year, and says it's the top priority for his committee.

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