A federal law authorizing the creation of a nationwide first-responder network in the 700 MHz D-block frequency should allow utilities to access the network in times of emergency, industry proponents said recently. The legislation -- which was signed last week by President Barack Obama -- makes concessions allowing nonemergency industries that offer critical services to use the network. Some observers worry, however, that language categorizing such sectors -- which may include utilities -- as "secondary" could mean they get sidelined in favor of other services during emergencies.

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