Telecom Alert—–911 Fee Diversion; House Passes Legislation Repealing T-Band Auction; California Classifies 911 Dispatchers as First Responders; RF Safety—–Vol. XVII, Issue 39
911 Fee Diversion
Last week, at the NENA Ignite Conference, a staffer from the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau reported that all but three states have provided information for their annual 911 fee report. The report is required by the “New and Emerging Technologies 911 Improvement Act of 2008.” At this week’s Open Meeting, the Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry focused on the effects of fee diversion and the most effective ways to dissuade states and jurisdictions from diverting 911 fees. As part of the NOI, the Commission will seek comment on whether improvements can be made to the annual 911 fee data collection.
House Passes Legislation Repealing T-Band Auction
Last week, the House passed H.R. 451, the “Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act,” which repeals the law that requires the FCC to auction public safety T-Band channels next year and to relocate public safety incumbents out of the T-Band by 2023. While the FCC has taken steps to move forward with an auction to meet the statutory mandate, FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioner Rosenworcel are in agreement that the auction is a “bad idea.” A similar bill was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee in July (Vol. XVII, Issue 30). The bill that passed the House also included language that discouraged 911 fee diversion.
California Classifies 911 Dispatchers as First Responders
California passed legislation to update the definition of “first responder” to include “public safety telecommunicator.” Public safety industry groups, including APCO and NENA, have been calling for a similar reclassification on federal level. The Office of Management Budget currently classifies 911 dispatchers as clerical workers. H.R. 1629, the “911 SAVES Act,” would reclassify 911 call takers and dispatchers as “Protective Service Occupations.” The public safety industry hopes the California law will serve as an example on a federal level.
The Commission filed a brief in the DC Circuit defending the decision to maintain RF exposure limits. The brief was filed in response to a brief filed jointly by the Environmental Health Trust and the Children’s Health Defense (Vol. XVII, Issue 31), which argued that the Commission failed to address health and safety concerns when it maintained the current RF safety limits. In defense of its decision to maintain RF limits, the Commission stated that the FDA recommended no change in limits and explained that they did not ignore new technological developments, as alleged by the Petitioners.
Timothy A. Doughty, Kathleen Slattery Thompson and Adam (AJ) Reust contributed to this article.