A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee unanimously approved an amendment that calls for up to $10 billion in proceeds from a future auction of 3.1-3.45 GHz spectrum to be used to support Next-Generation 911 (NG911) deployments.

The amendment passed the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology with a 29-0 vote; it would still have to pass the larger House, the Senate and be signed by the president in order to The measure also includes a process for identifying at least 200 megahertz of spectrum in that lower 3 GHz range that could be freed up for “exclusive or shared use,” according to remarks by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and it requires that spectrum to be auctioned within seven years. Among other committee actions underway is an extension of the Federal Communications Commission’s authority to auction U.S. spectrum.

NG911 systems allow a 911 Public Safety Answering Point to receive IP-based or multi-media communications, such as text, photo or video messages. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration submitted a report to Congress in late 2018 with estimates of the cost of NG911 deployment and operations. At the time, the agencies estimated NG911 deployment costs at between $9.5 billion to $12.7 billion for deployment, and lifecycle cost estimate — including operational costs and equipment refreshes — in the range of $13.5 billion to $16 billion. Those costs would be spread between local, state and federal agencies. NTIA and NHTSA also estimated that the transition to NG911 will take about about a decade — under the rosy circumstances of there being no delays in funding, scheduling or deviations from the recommended implementation path.

A proposed $10 billion in NG911 funding in the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan was pared back to just $470 million as part of negotiations to trim the total cost of the bill. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel had previously proposed funding the NG911 transition through spectrum auctions, rather than the traditional vehicle of fee-based and state-based measures that trickle through at the local and state levels.

In related news, Frost & Sullivan recently released a forecast which estimated that the NG911 market in the U.S. will gown from about $888.1 million last year to $119 billion by 2026, a compound annual growth rate of 6.1%. This will be driven in part, the analyst firm said, by the proliferation of internet of things devices that can send IP-based 911 communications such as vehicles, wearables, connected security systems, smart buildings and homes and smart city infrastructure.

“Public safety answering points must be equipped to keep up with disruptive technologies and advanced networks that have altered the way consumers and businesses communicate. NG911 represents an industry transformation that proactively enhances public safety by acknowledging and catering to the rapidly evolving demands of citizens,” said Brent Iadarola, VP of research at Frost & Sullivan. “It enables connected assets to provide first responders with auxiliary incident intelligence to enhance the preparation, speed, and precision of an emergency response.

“The recent escalation of crime and active shooter incidents in the US has elevated pressure on states and counties that have not yet initiated NG911 to accelerate deployments,” Iadarola added. “The ability to provide first responders with supplemental, real-time data that enhances situational awareness and illuminates the context of an emergency event can literally be lifesaving.”

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