Butler County to apply for 10 new radio frequencies
Smack in the middle of a sprawling 102-page bill approved in 2012 to extend a payroll tax cut and emergency jobless benefits sit a few paragraphs that force public safety agencies to give back radio frequencies in the so-called T-Band, so that the federal government can auction them to commercial interests.
Experts question the expense of such a switch and whether enough space exists in other broadcast spectrums to relocate the public safety agencies that need the airwaves for emergency communications.
Butler County aims to nail down alternative public safety radio frequencies well in advance of the federal mandate to switch by 2023.
The county will apply for 10 new frequencies to replace 12 they must give back to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), said Steve Bicehouse, the director of the county's emergency services.
“It's better to have them rather than scramble,” Bicehouse said.
Butler County will spend $3,450 on 20 applications for the 10 frequencies, Bicehouse said.
The county must apply to the FCC for both the sending and the receiving channels of each frequency.
The county also will spend $11,040 to renew licenses that have expired.
The Butler County Board of Commissioners on June 5 approved spending the funds.
Public safety agencies in the county will not have to buy new radios to use the new frequencies, saving them thousands of dollars, Bicehouse said.
Butler County dispatch center will have to buy new radios, but Bicehouse said he intended to replace the radio system anyway.
Eleven major metropolitan areas, including Pittsburgh, run significant portions of their public safety radio systems over the T-Band, between 470 and 512 megahertz.
The FCC will auction the vacated frequencies and use proceeds to reimburse agencies for the cost of relocating them to other frequencies.
The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council estimated it will cost $5.9 billion to relocate the public safety radio systems of those cities and that auctioning off the T-Band frequencies is not expected to cover the costs.
The council estimated it will cost agencies in Western Pennsylvania $203.4 million to relocate their public safety radio systems.
Pittsburgh's emergency services agencies don't use the affected bandwidth and will not be affected by the switch, said Ray Demichiei, the deputy director of emergency management.
Starting the relocation process early is a good idea, said David Buchanan, head of the council's Spectrum Management Committee. It can take years to relocate and rebuild a public safety radio system, he said.
The council predicts the bandwidth relocation will cause a “major disruption to vital public safety services.”
“NPSTC believes implementing the T-Band legislation is not feasible, provides no public interest benefit and the matter should be re-visited by Congress,” the report concluded.
Allegheny County also operates a large portion of its public safety radio system over the T-Band frequencies.
The county has looked for alternative frequencies but was told by the FCC none were available, said county Emergency Services Chief Alvin Henderson.
The county has asked the FCC to reconsider the law.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Interstate 376 lanes reopen in Hopewell following garbage truck fire
- Butler County to join growing 911 network
- Connoquenessing Valley innovative learning space emphasizes interaction
- Butler Township man in jail after reportedly holding woman at gunpoint
- Aldi set to open Cranberry location
- Fire sweeps through house in Jackson
- Butler welcomes native son at Navy Band concert
- Inmate found hanging in Butler County jail
- Butler County community reigns as king of Cranberries
- Middlesex natural gas drilling hearings under way
- Drilling regulations divisive in Middlesex