During a hearing Tuesday, members of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on emergency, communications and preparedness questioned provisions of the FCC’s draft rulemaking proposal on the upcoming 700 MHz D-block reauction, as panelists and public safety officials debated the pros and cons of allocating the Dblock channels directly to cities and states. Next week, the FCC is expected to issue a further notice of proposed rulemaking that, among other things, would recommend (1) licensing of a hybrid commercial-public safety Dblock broadband network on a nationwide or regional basis, (2) reduction of the D-block reserve price from $1.3 billion to $750 million, and (3) extension of the D-block construction period from ten years to fifteen. Voicing support for positions advocated by the New York City Police Department (NYCPD) and other public safety entities, Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) suggested that, in lieu of an auction, the FCC should consider assigning D-block spectrum directly to cities and states that could decide how to use those channels to best serve local needs. Because the FCC “appeared to be caught off guard” when the D-block went unsold at the 700 MHz auction last spring, Lowey also questioned whether the FCC has any back-up plan in place should the D-block fail to sell again. Responding to Lowey, Derek Poarch, the chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said the FCC lacks the authority to award spectrum to public safety entities outside of the auction process, as he added that the plan advocated by NYCPD could prove detrimental to rural areas that lack the financial wherewithal to deploy broadband infrastructure. Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thomspon (D-MS) stressed the importance of interoperability, as he declared: “the public-private partnership is crucial in a successful reauction of the public safety spectrum.” Noting that the FCC’s proposal accounts for the incorporation of legacy systems into a nationwide network, Poarch told the subcommittee: “our goal is a nationwide system that states can be a part of.”