National Public Safety Broadband Network (D-Block)






West Virginia First Responders and Public Safety Officials Agree

that Law Will Help Improve Public Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Jay Rockefeller today said that a new law he authored – which the President signed this week – will for the first time build a nationwide, wireless communications network specifically designed to connect West Virginia’s and our nation’s first responders during emergencies.

“This is a victory for our first responders and the American people,” said Rockefeller.  “For over ten years, I have worked to make sure our firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers have the tools they need to get the job done.  Because of this legislation, they will soon have a state of the art high-speed, wireless network that will connect them to other first responders throughout the country so that they can better respond to emergencies such as mine accidents, natural disasters, or national security threats.  We are making historic changes in the tools our heroes in public safety use to protect every American, and it’s a great day for public safety.”


“The passage of this bill, which will create a nationwide public safety broadband network, is one of the most significant steps ever in providing support to America’s first responders.  On behalf of the public safety community in West Virginia I want to thank Senator Rockefeller for his tireless efforts to ensure that first responders across West Virginia and the nation will have the ability to communicate and share information with each other during critical situations.  In West Virginia where we face major challenges as we try to build a communications network for our public safety agencies, we will now be able to overcome one of the major hurdles identified in the 9-11 commission report.  We look forward to being on the leading edge of the deployment of this national asset.”

--Jimmy Gianato, West Virginia Homeland Security Advisor and Director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

“With this new capability, it will become possible for our West Virginia National Guard homeland defense assets to receive real-time updates on a natural disaster or weapons of mass destruction event before they arrive on scene.  Commanders and military first responders will have a much greater ability for effective and timely communication with civilian authorities. This type of forward-planning ability and effective interagency communications will save valuable time during disaster operations and save civilian lives and keep first responders safe.  I applaud Senator Rockefeller for his efforts on behalf of our citizens and first responders and using this innovative effort to also reduce our Nation’s deficit.”

-- Major General James A. Hoyer, Adjutant General for West Virginia

“As part of the EMS in West Virginia, we have faced difficult situations where our paramedics have been within twenty minutes of a trauma center with a patient in critical condition, and we were unable to communicate via phone or radio with anyone since signals are scarce.  But this bill will change that.  All facets of public safety have joined together to issue a call to action to build a nationwide communication system.  I’m proud to say that Senator Rockefeller has answered that call.  Thank you, Senator, for initiating the first steps toward this goal.  Lives will be saved because of this.”

-- Steve McClure, Director of Emergency Medical Services for Jackson County

“Because of Senator Rockefeller’s efforts, we will be able to create the next generation of public safety communications.  This is about saving lives – thousands of lives across West Virginia and the country.  Soon, an ambulance carrying a patient in critical care will be able to transmit critical data to the emergency room before arrival so that the patient can get immediate care upon entering the hospital.  I’m glad to say that West Virginia is ahead of the curve and we are already starting to build the infrastructure to meet some of the public safety challenges, and this new law will be a huge step forward.”

-- Joe Gonzalez, Director of Communications, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Office of Emergency Medical Services 

“This is a tremendous piece of public safety legislation that Senator Rockefeller called for.  Looking at the struggles our first responders currently face, it’s so important that he had the foresight to push for this network.  During 9/11, first responders couldn’t reach each other using voice communications – and this is a problem that our first responders still face ten years later, especially in cross border communications.  In West Virginia, we struggle to put wireless data services in first responder vehicles to connect workers, as wireless services are not always accessible or affordable.  But those services are critical to send data -- such as medical information, house addresses, or pictures of a suspect -- between first responders and dispatch centers.  This legislation will help resolve these issues; we will have a nationwide, wireless network thanks to the work of Senator Rockefeller.”

-- Lt. G.E. McCabe, West Virginia State Police, and West Virginia Statewide Interoperable Coordinator, West Virginia Department of Homeland Security

“Senator Rockefeller has been incredibly supportive in working to build out the national public safety network.  We have seen the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, and we have faced difficult situations in West Virginia as well, such as at Upper Big Branch mine, floods, and community emergencies.  The steering committee has been working to change this course, but with Senator Rockefeller’s help, we will now be able to make great strides forward.”

--David Ervin Chairman, West Virginia Statewide Interoperable Executive Steering Committee 


The final, historic public safety spectrum law is based on the fundamental framework Rockefeller first championed in his public safety bill.  This legislation will, for the first time, build a nationwide, high-speed network which will enable police, firefighters, EMS workers, and other first responders to communicate wirelessly when responding to natural disasters or other crises and keep America safe.  The new law will help prevent the kind of communications failures that occurred during rescue efforts at Ground Zero on 9/11 and at Upper Big Branch mine.

The law sets aside for first responders a chunk of airwaves and provides $7 billion in spectrum auction proceeds to build a public safety communications network.  This network will not cost taxpayers a dime.  Instead, the funds will be raised through voluntary incentive spectrum auctions conducted by the Federal Communications Commission.  In addition to paying for the new network for public safety, the revenues from these auctions will also contribute over $15 billion to the unemployment compensation fund, and could provide billions more to pay down the deficit.  The legislation has been endorsed by public safety groups across the country.

The measure passed last week as part of a broader Congressional bipartisan compromise on continuing the payroll tax break for workers, which Rockefeller supported.


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