“Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act” Included in New Congressional Spending Bill
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced the “Don’t Break up the T-Band Act” has been included in Congress’ upcoming spending bill. This legislation repeals the provision of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which mandates the sale of the T-Band spectrum, therefore allowing law-enforcement, fire officials, and EMS to continue using the T-Band spectrum to operate their radios for day-to-day life saving operations.
“Our first responders bravely and selflessly put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our communities, and our first priority must be ensuring they have the resources they need to safely and effectively do their jobs,” said Congressman Zeldin. “From hurricanes to fires, in the most dire situations, the T-band spectrum provides critical communication between first responders. Even when cell phones, internet, and electricity cease to function, T-band is the last line of defense, and selling off this spectrum would not only be a disservice to our nation’s first responders and the millions of Americans they serve, but to our nation’s taxpayers. I thank my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for their efforts to ensure our first responders have the tools they need and getting this important victory over the finish line.”
Currently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is required to reallocate and auction the T-Band spectrum by 2021, which would endanger public safety communications in major metropolitan areas across the United States. The T-Band is a portion of spectrum used in 11 heavily populated metropolitan areas, including New York, covering over 90 million Americans, to support critical public safety communications (i.e. police, fire and other first responder’s radios) and provide regional interoperability among first responders. Public safety agencies have spent numerous years and hundreds of millions of dollars of federal, state and local funds to plan and build out these T-Band networks. The result is battle-tested public safety networks that provide resilient coverage, reliability and regional interoperability. This spectrum is essential to public safety and for many public safety entities there is nowhere else to move.
In February 2018, Congressman Zeldin introduced the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act with Congressmen Eliot Engel (D, NY-16) and Peter King (R, NY-2).
In June 2018, Congressman Zeldin was joined by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Police Chief Stu Cameron, Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services Commissioner Joe Williams, other local elected officials and first responders to urgently call on Congress to pass the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act.
In July 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that relocating users from the T-Band spectrum would cost $5 billion to $6 billion and recommended Congress consider legislation allowing the continued use of the spectrum.
In December 2019, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai joined the call for Congress to repeal the mandate to auction the T-Band spectrum and allow public safety officials to continue saving lives using T-Band communications.
In March 2020, Congressman Zeldin, Congressman Engel, Senator Ed Markey (D, MA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY), along with first responders from New York, Massachusetts, and across the country, urged passage of the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act following its passage through the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.