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Quake Prompts Renewed Calls for National Public Safety Network

Photo: Agita Leimane

The earthquake that rattled much of the east coast Tuesday not only caused disruption on many roads, but caused disruption on cell phone networks.

The cell phone problems have now led to renewed calls for Congress to pass legislation establishing a nationwide broadband wireless network for first responders.

Reuters reports the creation of the broadband network is a key 9/11 Commission recommendation. It is yet to be enacted due to contention on Capitol Hill over whether to auction off a block of airwaves known as the D Block directly to public safety.

The other option Congress is considering is auctioning the spectrum to the private sector and require it to be shared with public safety.

“In the wake of the earthquake, cell service went dark,” said Public Safety Alliance spokesman Sean Kirkendall. “It’s a perfect illustration why public safety needs nationwide, mission critical broadband capability of its own.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge criticized Congress’ inaction over the public safety network last week, saying he did not think anything will pass before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

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