Hutchison Supports Direct Allocation Of D Block

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There is bipartisan support atop the Senate Commerce Committee for giving the D block of spectrum to first responders, rather than trying to re-auction it, as the Federal Communications Commission proposed to do in its national broadband plan.

Ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said at a hearing Thursday on the issue that she was prepared to support direct allocation. Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has already introduced a bill to that effect, and she said she was ready to work with him, but that there were still some technical questions to sort through.

She also said that Congress needed to make sure that there was sufficient funding.

The FCC has signaled that it is not wedded to the re-auction proposal and that it, too, is ready to work with Congress on creating a network that is truly interoperable and sustainable, according to an official speaking on background.

The FCC tried once before to auction the spectrum to create a public-private partnership that would result in a nationwide, interoperable communications network, but failed to interest a commercial bidder.