Washington – The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today voted to approve an agreement with Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS) allowing the project to lease access to FirstNet’s spectrum. The agreement is the first such agreement between FirstNet and one of the seven public safety Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees, whose funding was partially suspended following enactment of the law creating FirstNet.
The agreement between FirstNet and LA-RICS is the first step in the process towards lifting the project’s suspension. Next, LA-RICS must submit a request to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to lift the suspension. FirstNet will then submit a letter in support of that action. NTIA has the final decision as to whether to allow to the project to resume construction.
“I’m very pleased that we were able to reach a spectrum lease agreement with LA-RICS, and hope that agreements with other pilot projects will be reached soon,” said FirstNet Board Chairman Sam Ginn. “These projects will provide FirstNet with a substantial opportunity to gather key information and enable us to share these lessons learned with other projects and public safety.”
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Tax Relief Act), signed into law in February 2012, created FirstNet, an independent entity within NTIA. The law charges FirstNet with developing and operating a nationwide public safety broadband network, which is to be based on a single, nationwide network architecture, and directed that FirstNet hold the single license for the public safety broadband spectrum in the 700 MHz band. That new law dramatically changed the assumptions on which NTIA awarded the seven public safety BTOP projects in 2010.
In the wake of the Tax Relief Act, in May 2012 NTIA partially suspended the seven projects to ensure that BTOP grants funds would be prudently invested. During the suspension, FirstNet has had the opportunity to review the projects to make sure they will support FirstNet’s development of the nationwide network. The seven projects are: the Adams County (Colorado) Communications Center, the City of Charlotte (North Carolina), the Executive Office of the State of Mississippi, the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority, Motorola Solutions, Inc. (the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications Systems Authority (BayRICS), San Francisco Bay area), the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, and the New Mexico Department of Information Technology.
FirstNet and the public safety BTOP projects entered in to spectrum lease negotiations with FirstNet in February, and subsequently began lease negotiations with the State of Texas for Harris County in April. Negotiations with the six other BTOP projects and the State of Texas are ongoing.
FirstNet Adopts Resolution on Personnel Acquisition Strategy
The Board also approved a resolution today that maps out a personnel acquisition strategy for FirstNet to meet its short-term specialized staffing needs. This strategy will continue to be used to assist with FirstNet's immediate, critical work on technical issues, outreach and business planning as FirstNet works to hire full-time employees to fill many of these roles.
The strategy is intended to provide best value to Federal taxpayers by competitively selecting well qualified vendors and personnel, and incorporating strong competitive elements to control costs and risks. The Department of Commerce, which is the contracting authority for FirstNet, will review the strategy and associated documents. FirstNet expects to announce the contract opportunities in the next several weeks.
FirstNet will provide emergency responders with the first high-speed, nationwide network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet is designed to improve communication among local, state, regional, tribal and national emergency services personnel. The broadband data network will help save lives and protect the health and safety of all Americans. It will be built using LTE, the most advanced wireless technology available today. FirstNet fulfills a fundamental need of the public safety community for a single, mission-critical communications system enabling force multiplier effectiveness. Overseen by representatives of public safety, government and the wireless industry, FirstNet is an independent entity within the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (www.firstnet.gov).