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updated 1/27/2011 5:56:30 PM ET 2011-01-27T22:56:30

The Obama administration is throwing its support behind a plan to give a valuable chunk of radio waves to police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers to build nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety.

The announcement by the White House is a big victory for public safety officials, who have been lobbying aggressively for the wireless spectrum. They want to use it as the foundation for an "interoperable" broadband network that would let first responders across different agencies and different jurisdictions communicate with each other — a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission .

And it is a setback for several big wireless carriers, including T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel, which are eager to expand their spectrum holdings and want to see the airwaves auctioned off to the wireless industry.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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