On February 7, Nextel Communications formally accepted the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Report and Order
to eliminate public safety radio interference at 800 MHz. In this order, the FCC has made improved communications possible for first responders and, with Nextel's acceptance, the implementation phase of reconfiguration begins immediately.
International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) President Bob DiPoli joined executives from Nextel and leaders from the FCC at a press conference held in Washington, D.C.
"Today culminates three years of hard work and collaboration to find a comprehensive solution to 800 MHz radio interference. Not many issues are so important that they can rally the entire public safety community together," DiPoli said. "But in our line of work, command and control rely on effective communication. There is nothing more important than getting an urgent message where it needs to go and getting it there fast and surely. Interference was limiting our ability to do just that."
A group of public safety organizations, including the IAFC, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Major County Sheriffs' Association, and the National Sheriffs' Association, released the following statement on the issue:
Today is a triumph for public safety in America -- for both first responders and the communities they dutifully serve every day. With Nextel's acceptance of the Federal Communications Commission's Order, we take a giant leap forward in realizing the goal of interference-free communications for all public safety officials operating within the 800 MHz spectrum.
The FCC's decision to reconfigure the 800 MHz spectrum, separating the incompatible technologies of public safety and commercial operations, is a long-term, proactive solution that solves the pressing problem of radio interference at 800 MHz and provides additional spectrum for the future needs of first responders.
We extend our thanks to the Commissioners at the FCC in particular. Their careful consideration and unwavering commitment to do what's best for public safety has improved emergency communications -- and will save lives. We would like to particularly recognize Chairman Michael Powell for his leadership and uncompromising vision for public safety communications. We also want to recognize the support of Commissioner's Abernathy, Adelstein, Copps, and Martin in this long and difficult proceeding.
The success of this important initiative to reconfigure the spectrum is a testament to the power of a true public-private partnership that advocates for the good of the American public and continued safekeeping of our great country. Without our allies in the public and private sector who put aside their personal agendas to work for the common good, the public safety community could not have come this far.
Even as we turn this important corner, we are still far from the finish line in the process to eliminate interference. As we move into the implementation phase of spectrum reconfiguration, we must diligently work together to see that the FCC's order is successfully implemented. This will be a long process, but one that will ultimately be worth it when public safety radio interference is a problem of the past.
Looking for the latest gov tech news as it happens? Subscribe to GT newsletters.