FCC Chairman: 9/11 a deadline for public safety progress

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski invoked September 11th as a deadline for "substantial progress" on a public safety network for first responders. 

During the first meeting of a public safety advisory group on Tuesday, he said the agency must move forward on key issues "by the tenth anniversary of 9/11."

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett echoed the remarks, noting problems in how public safety agencies are connected today. Agencies still have trouble talking to each other across varying devices and across jurisdictions. 

Almost a decade after the terrorist attacks, "interoperability remains elusive," Barnett said.

The backdrop of the argument is that the FCC needs legislation before it can push ahead on the central challenges of the public safety network and pursue a plan endorsed by key senators and the Obama administration.

House Republicans are still weighing whether they want to back that plan, or whether they think the FCC should pursue a more cost-effective option, which the FCC does have the legal authority to enact.