The fight to obtain additional wireless communications spectrum capable of providing police, firemen and emergency managers with the same capabilities most 15 year-olds have on their smart phones has been ongoing since the attacks of September 11, 2001, when outdated radios prevented firefighters and police from communicating evacuation orders. Hundreds died because they could not hear those orders.

And while little has changed in the decade since then, the Obama Administration last month publicly announced its support to transfer a swath of wireless spectrum known as the D block to first responder agencies for the purpose of building a nationwide, interoperable wireless public safety network – a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

The decision puts the White House squarely at odds with a powerful faction of wireless companies that continue to pressure Congress for a public auction of the available spectrum. Those companies argue the spectrum is critical to American competitiveness in an increasingly wireless world and a sale would raise an estimated $28 billion that could be applied to deficit reduction. Keep reading →