To ensure that “America’s public safety professionals have the communications spectrum to do their jobs and save lives,” ranking House Homeland Security Committee member Peter King (R-KY) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require the FCC to reallocate the 700 MHz D-block to the public safety sector for the purpose of establishing a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety use. Co-sponsored by Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science & Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Yvette Clark (D-NY) and by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Candice Miller (R-MI) and Anh “Joseph” Cao (R-LA), the Broadband First Responders Act of 2010 (H.R. 5081) stands in contrast to recommendations outlined in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) that call for the auctioning of D-block frequencies to a commercial wireless operator or operators that would provide public safety entities with priority access to that spectrum. (The NBP also calls for $12-$16 billion in public funding for a public safety broadband network that would operate on the 10 MHz of spectrum adjacent to the D-block that is already under the control of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust.) By reassigning the D-block to public safety, the bill would double the amount of broadband spectrum reserved for public safety use as advocated by various national groups that say a contiguous 20 MHz spectrum allotment is needed by first responders to reduce roaming on commercial networks and to give first responder agencies greater flexibility to pursue partnerships with other governmental agencies. Late last week, the National Governors Association and six other major governmental organizations wrote to members of Congress in opposition to NBP recommendations for a D-block auction, voicing concern that FCC proposals to provide “public safety roaming and priority access on . . . commercial 700 MHz networks for a fee” would not guarantee emergency first responders the “reliable and resilient communications capabilities” that they need. Noting that the in-building penetration capabilities of the 700 MHz D-block make that band especially well-suited for public safety use, King asserted: “we cannot place brave Americans’ lives at risk through a piecemeal approach to . . . spectrum allocation.”