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HARMAN BILL SPURS INNOVATION, COMPETITION FOR NEXT-GENERATION MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS
[July 29, 2010]

HARMAN BILL SPURS INNOVATION, COMPETITION FOR NEXT-GENERATION MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS FOR FIRST RESPONDERS


Jul 29, 2010 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- Lawmaker says: "Nine years after September 11, first responders should have the equipment they need. We in Congress must ensure public safety officials have access to a competitive, dynamic, and innovative market for the devices that are used to save lives and help protect our communities."~ Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Venice), chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today introduced the bipartisan Next Generation Public Safety Device Act of 2010 with Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL).



The legislation will spur innovation and competition in the development of next generation mobile communications devices that will provide the highest-speed transmission of data, voice, and video services over the Internet for police, firefighters and EMTs at an affordable price. It authorizes a $70 million grant competition to develop and build prototype mission critical voice and data-capable handsets and vehicle-portable devices for the 700 MHz spectrum.

The public safety market, due to its relatively small size and niche requirements, is currently a monopoly. As a result, first responders and local governments can pay up to $5,000 per radio. Despite the cost, these devices do not enable seamless on-the-ground coordination between first responders or allow them to access databanks, fingerprint records, facial recognition software, or streaming video.


"Almost a decade after 9/11, America's first responders still do not have the communication tools they need to support their mission," said Harman. "Directed research and development is essential to achieving interoperability because it will drive down cost and develop devices that public safety has a hand in selecting. Equally as important, this bill will accelerate the development of those devices, quickly giving public safety more options with new cost savings to states and localities, and assurance that the technology can be trusted for their important work." "As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and an E-911 Caucus co-chair, I have heard from first responders about the lack of equipment to meet their needs in emergency situations," said Shimkus. "We have made great strides in some areas, such as call centers, but interoperable frontline equipment is still not affordable for most departments. I support this bipartisan legislation that will provide safety to both our first responders and the American people." The Next Generation Public Safety Device Act is endorsed by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, which has identified research and development as one of its top priorities, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Emergency Numbers Association and telecommunication carriers including Sprint and the Rural Cellular Association.

Congresswoman Harman's complete introductory statement is attached.

### Congresswoman Jane Harman Next Generation Public Safety Device Act of 2010 Madam Speaker. I rise today to introduce the bipartisan Next Generation Public Safety Device Act of 2010 with my Energy and Commerce colleague Rep. John Shimkus, Co-Chair of the E-911 Caucus. Our legislation is intended to spur development of 21st Century public safety communication devices that will provide the highest-speed transmission of data, voice, and video services over the Internet.

Almost a decade after 9/11, America's first responders still do not have the communication tools they need to support their mission.

Currently, the public safety device market is a monopoly. There are two reasons for lack of competition: first, this particular market is relatively small, and second, the device requirements are unique. As a result, first responders and local governments can pay up to $5,000 per radio. The money spent on these devices has not enabled seamless on-the-ground coordination between first responders or the ability to access databanks, fingerprint records, facial recognition software, or streaming video.

To solve the problem, our bill authorizes $70 million for a research and development grant program to build devices that support data, video, and voice communications.

This bill charges the National Telecommunications and Information Agency to coordinate with a working group, consisting of the Federal Communications Commission, the DHS Office of Emergency Communications, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and public safety stakeholders, to develop criteria, evaluate devices in multiple stages, and select products for funding and licensing. This process will produce devices ready for first responders' use within five years - hopefully sooner. Thereafter, the GAO will study the process by which the program was carried out, the impacts of the grant program on competition in the market and the development of first responder devices. The cost of this program will not add to the deficit because it is offset by extending the authority of the FCC to auction spectrum.

Directed research and development is essential to achieving interoperability because it will drive down cost and develop devices that public safety has a hand in selecting. Equally as important, this bill will accelerate the development of those devices, quickly giving public safety more options with new cost savings to states and localities, and assurance that the technology can be trusted for their important work.

This bill has the support of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, which has identified research and development as one of its top priorities. The Fraternal Order of Police and the National Emergency Numbers Association also endorse the bill, as do Sprint and the Rural Cellular Association.

We in Congress must ensure public safety officials have access to a competitive, dynamic, and innovative market for the devices that are used to save lives and help protect our communities.

I hope that this effort will bring technologists, first responders, and government together to create innovative solutions for a major national security concern, and urge prompt action on this legislation.

Alex Nguyen Press Assistant Office of Congresswoman Jane Harman (CA-36) 2400 Rayburn House Office Building 202-225-2156 Office

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