From Slashdot, an example of why legislators are often too dumb to see beyond the financial transaction, invoking the law of unintended consequences:
“Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has introduced HR 607, the ‘Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011,’ which has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which handles telecommunications legislation). The bill would create a nationwide Public Safety broadband network using the so-called ‘D-Block’ of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for Public Safety use. But to pay for it, he wants to sell off 420-440 MHz, currently heavily used by the military, satellites and Amateur Radio operators.”
OK, here’s the really dumb part (as if the above wasn’t dumb enough), have you ever heard of PAVE PAWS?
Well I have, because I’m an Amateur Radio Operator, and I’ve got one almost in my backyard at Beale Air Force Base. I can listen to it on my scanner.
This happens to be a critical long range defense radar, and it happens to be sensitive to the very frequencies the congresscritter wants to sell to finance his idea. Here’s the defense coverage for the USA:
PAVE PAWS is a United States Air Force Space Command radar system operated by three 21st Space Wing squadrons for missile warning and space surveillance. Operational PAVE PAWS radars are located at:
- Cape Cod Air Force Station, Massachusetts. Operated by 6th Space Warning Squadron, (41°45′08″N 70°32′17″W / 41.75222°N 70.53806°W / 41.75222; -70.53806)
- Beale AFB, California. Operated by 7th Space Warning Squadron, (39°08′10″N 121°21′03″W / 39.13611°N 121.35083°W / 39.13611; -121.35083)
- Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. Operated by 13th Space Warning Squadron, (64°18′01″N 149°11′23″W / 64.30028°N 149.18972°W / 64.30028; -149.18972). Scheduled to become a PAVE PAWS site from being a BMEWS site in 2001.
In addition, two other facilities were shuttered by the Air Force in 1995: Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia (32°34′52″N 83°34′09″W / 32.58111°N 83.56917°W / 32.58111; -83.56917), and Eldorado AFS, Texas (30°58′44″N 100°33′14″W / 30.979°N 100.554°W / 30.979; -100.554).
PAVE is an Air Force program name, while PAWS stands for Phased Array Warning System. PAVE has also been defined as an acronym for Precision Acquisition Vehicle Entry, but that is likely a backronym created to explain the program name. The radar, developed by Raytheon, is used primarily to detect and track sea-launched (SLBM) and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The system also has a secondary mission of detecting and tracking Earth-orbiting satellites. Information received from the PAVE PAWS radar systems pertaining to SLBM/ICBM and satellite detection is forwarded to the U.S. Strategic Command’s Missile Correlation (formerly Missile Warning) and Space Control Centers at Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Colorado. Data is also sent to the National Military Command Center and to U.S. Strategic Command‘s Command Center at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.
440 MHz crucial to PAVE PAWS radar systems:
In California, we already have a problem on those frequencies King wants to sell due to the PAVE-PAWS system at Beale Air Force Base east of Marysville. Surprisingly, it can receive hams in the San Francisco Bay area – on a 440 MHz. UHF band where I wouldn’t expect that distance – and we have had to reduce power on most of the repeaters in that band to protect the military’s space-warning services. If the band were to be sold, it would not be available for commercial users in much of California, and many parts of the nation for that matter.
Amateur radio operators have already voluntarily shut down repeater systems on 440 band in most of Northern California, because they believe security of our nation is more important:
January 14th, 2010 by hamslife
While the issue of interference between amateur radio operators on the 440 MHz band and the US Air Force Pave PAWS has been resolved on the east coast the restrictions on amateur operations on the 440 MHz band still remains in effect on the west coast of the United States.
If you are not familiar with the issue more information can be seen on the January 8, 2008 post (http://hamslife.com/?p=60) and on the February 1, 2008 post (http://hamslife.com/?p=81 ) of this blog site.
By means of email the Section Manager for the ARRL Sacramento Valley Section, Ronald D. Murdock, W6JK gave an update to ARRL members in the Sacramento Valley Section.
In his email Ron said that on 8 January 2010 he and other ARRL officials were given a briefing by Lt. Col. Cory J. Keepler the commander of the 7th Space Warning Squadron at Beale AFB, CA. In this briefing Lt. Col. Keepler revealed that the Air Force believes the current restrictions on the local Amateur radio operations has improved Pave PAWS operation and thus will remain in effect.
There is also some other interference which the Air Force has not yet been able to identify. The Air Force will continue to search for any interference and hopefully will be able to identify all of them.
So if Congressman King’s bill goes through, and the bands come up for sale, what tech savvy company in their right mind would buy the rights to operate on those frequencies knowing full well that our early warning radar system is affected, and they’d very likely be ordered to cease and desist by the Air Force in the interest of National Security?
Can you say “Kingdom of idiots”?
Here’s what the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) has to say about this hare brained idea:
On February 10, 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced H.R. 607, the “Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011,” which has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which handles telecommunications legislation). The bill addresses certain spectrum management issues including the creation and maintenance of a nationwide Public Safety broadband network.
As part of that network, the Bill provides for the allocation of the so-called “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for Public Safety use. HR 607 uniquely, provides for the reallocation of other spectrum for auction to commercial users, in order to offset the loss of revenue that would occur as the result of the allocation of the D-Block to Public Safety instead of commercial auction. H.R. 607 lists, among the bands to be reallocated for commercial auction within ten years of the passage of the Bill, the paired bands 420-440 MHz and 450-470 MHz.
The inclusion of most of the Amateur 70-cm spectrum as one of the replacement bands is a major problem. The 420-440 MHz band is not Public Safety spectrum and should not be included in any spectrum swap of Public Safety allocations.
While the ARRL and all Amateurs support the work of Public Safety and recognize their need for dedicated spectrum which would promote interoperability, the ARRL vigorously opposes HR 607 in its present form. HR 607 is a direct threat to our limited spectrum and the ARRL encourages all amateurs to appropriately voice their opposition to this bill.