Recommendations from 9-11 panel target analog switch-off

December 16, 2005

The “Final Report on 9/11 Commission Recommendations” released Dec. 5 chastises Congress for dragging its feet on switching off analog television transmission.

The first item in the section of the recommendations, entitled “Emergency Preparedness and Response,” gives federal government a grade of “F” for not having brought the analog switch-off to a conclusion to free radio spectrum for first responders.

The report acknowledges that the Pending Year 2006 budget reconciliation would set a date for the handover of the analog spectrum and reserve some of the relinquished bandwidth for public safety use. However, it calls the House and Senate 2009 deadline for the return “too distant given the urgency of the threat.”

“A 2007 handover date would make the American people safer sooner,” the report said. The report parenthetically would raise its grade to a “C” if the bill passes.

The final recommendations are the work product of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which was established to assess what went wrong and how to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to future attacks. The commission is chaired by former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean and co-chaired by Lee Hamilton, a former member of the House of Representatives from Indiana.

On Dec. 7, Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro issued a statement calling on Congress to hasten finalizing the budget reconciliation bill that would set the date for the switch-off.

Saying the return of the spectrum would have “immense public benefits, most importantly additional spectrum for first responders,” Shapiro also said handover of the spectrum would lead to new wireless technologies and capabilities.

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