BROADBAND / LTE
Title VI of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 allocated spectrum for the creation of a nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety communications – a major success for states’ efforts to achieve interoperable communications among first responders and the public safety community,. The law dramatically changes the future of public safety communications by creating a public safety broadband network (PSBN) that will allow first responders and other public safety officials to share mission-critical data and eventually mission-critical voice communications.
Steps to Prepare for Public Safety Broadband
Governors have an important role in building and operating the network and would be well served by taking a number of actions immediately even though the network's governing authority and the holder of the license for the spectrum, the First Responder Network Authority ("Firstnet"), will not be seated until August 2012. FirstNet is responsible for the design, building, and ongoing operation of the network. As per the law, however, FirstNet must consult with state, local, regional, and tribal jurisdictions regarding a range of activities including construction or access to the core network and any radio access network (RAN), placement of towers, assignment of priority to local users, and training. The sooner states begin their preparation, the better situated they will be when FirstNet issues network requirements. The more knowledgeable states are of their own needs, the better they can inform FirstNet as it designs the network.
Requirements and Background
• Appointments to the FirstNet board were made by the Department of Commerce/NTIA on August 20, 2012.
• NTIA must develop grant guidance, including prioritization of activities to ensure coverage in rural and urban areas. Total funding available will be $135 million.
• After FirstNet provides the plan for construction with the sate (not anticipated until late 2014 at the earliest), including the state’s funding level, the governor must decide whether to participate in national network deployment or to deploy a state network that would be interoperable with the national network.
• If opting out, the state must submit an alternative plan for construction and operation to the FCC that demonstrates compliance with technical requirements and interoperability with national network; the state must also apply to NTIA to lease the spectrum and for a grant to construct the radio access network within the state.
• If the governor chooses to opt-out of the national network, the governor must complete an RFP for construction, maintenance and operation of network within 180 days.