Legislation introduced last week in the U.S. Senate would require broadcasters to return spectrum used for analog NTSC transmissions to the government in time to allow public safety agencies to begin using a portion of surrendered broadcast bandwidth by Jan. 1, 2009.
Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) introduced the Spectrum Availability for Emergency-Response and Law-Enforcement to Improve Vital Emergency Services Act,” known as The SAVE LIVES Act of 2005.
The bill’s intent is to provide a date certain for allocation of 24MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band for emergency responders. Congress promised that allocation in 1997, but as of yet has failed to deliver.
As a means of fulfilling Congress’ promise, the bill would bring the analog-to-digital transition to an end, requiring relinquishment of analog TV spectrum that is particularly attractive for emergency communications because of range and its ability to penetrate buildings.