While FCC commissioners discussed the agency’s budget with members of a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee today, the weighty history of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 were reviewed as well.
For FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, 9/11 was particularly personal. In prepared testimony, she told lawmakers she lost a family member in the Twin Towers. “But it is also important to identify what has not changed. We are resilient. We are optimistic. We are steadfast in our shared determination to move forward,” she stated.
However she noted that 12 years ago today, the lives of “too many of our first responders — and those they sought to save — were put at risk by the absence of interoperable public safety communications.”
Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn echoed the first responder issue, noting that 9/11 “painfully highlighted” the need for interoperable, functioning communications systems. “FirstNet will be an important part of this equation but we must also focus on day-to-day communications services, including facilitating the Emergency Alert System, licensing new frequencies to our first responders, ensuring that no one is interfering with or jamming our communications networks, and making certain 911 systems are accessible in emergencies,” Clyburn stated.
Noting the agency’s efforts to support homeland security, Clyburn testified that the FCC has worked diligently on such efforts. She referenced the FCC’s work with FEMA to bring emergency alerts to wireless consumers. The commission responded to last year’s derecho storm “with decisive action to ensure the reliability of calls to 911, and we will follow through on the rulemaking during my tenure,” she pledged.