For Immediate Release:                                   Contact: Sallianne Fortunato
January 14, 1999                                                         202-482-7002

Announces New "Public Safety Radio Spectrum Initiative"

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Commerce Department announced today that it is launching a new initiative that will address the critical need for radio communications among Federal, state and local emergency officials. Through the new Public Safety Radio Spectrum Initiative, the Department will lead Federal efforts to ensure that emergency workers at all levels of government have instant access to secure radio bands necessary to communicate effectively during emergency situations. Congress provided $1.95 million for the initiative as part of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 1999.

"Recent disastrous events in our nation, both natural and man-made, have shown that emergency workers at all levels of government need access to fast, reliable communications in order to perform their jobs effectively and successfully," said Commerce Assistant Secretary Larry Irving. "This new initiative will enable us to develop a national strategy to ensure that sufficient radio spectrum is available when and where an emergency or public safety need may arise."

The initiative will be administered by the Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA will provide technical, policy and spectrum management expertise in support of a national strategy for improved radio communications among Federal, state and local public safety programs. The initiative will be headed by William Speights, public safety program manager, NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management.

The new initiative is an outgrowth of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review and the Public Safety Wireless Network Program (PSWN), created in 1996 to plan and foster the implementation of an integrated wireless and wireline network that meets the needs of the public safety user community. The initiative also will address the recommendations of the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee's (PSWAC) Final Report, which includes improving the capability of public safety entities to communicate.

NTIA serves as the principal adviser to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and information issues and represents the Executive Branch before the Congress, other Federal agencies, foreign governments and international organizations. NTIA's Office of Spectrum Management oversees and coordinates federal government spectrum use. For more information about NTIA's Public Safety Program or the new Public Safety Initiative, please contact William Speights at (202) 482-1726 or visit the NTIA's Home Page at