Sunday, May 20, 2012


The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed in February 2012 provides for a single nationwide interoperable Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN). This network will for the first time enable police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical service professionals, and other public safety officials to communicate with each other across agencies and jurisdictions using wireless and data services as needed.

As a result of the Act, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on May 16th issued a Request for Information (RFI) to begin the development of the “State and Local Implementation” grant program included in the Act. Up to $135 million is available to fund the grants.

The Act establishes FirstNet to operate as an independent authority within NTIA to ensure the design, construction, and operation of the network. FirstNet is responsible for developing nationwide standards across the network, issuing open and competitive Requests for Proposals, building, operating, and maintaining the network, but in addition, FirstNet will oversee contacts with non-federal entities.

Responders to NITA’s RFI concerned with the State and Local Implementation Grants may want to consider some of the issues and comment on:

  • Best practices from existing telecommunications or public safety grant programs that NTIA should consider adopting
  • Costs that should be eligible for funding under the grant program
  • Whether data gathering on current broadband and mobile data infrastructure should be considered an allowable cost
  • Factors that NTIA should consider in prioritizing grants to ensure coverage in rural as well as urban areas

Other possible ideas to comment on is whether to use available tools, how to address data collection needs, how grant funds should be made available, should grant funds be based on population, and should NTIA consider phasing the distribution of grant funds in the new program.

Comments in response to the RFI must be received by June 15, 2012 and submitted to

To review the Department of Commerce NTIA notice in the May 16th Federal Register, go to the page 28857 for a complete description of the request for information.