Sunday, October 14, 2012

FirstNet Board Seeks Comments

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created the First Responder Network Authority referred to as FirstNet to operate as an independent authority within NTIA. FirstNet has been authorized to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN) to provide interoperable emergency communications.

The FirstNet Nationwide Network (FNN) to be implemented in the 2013-2014 timeframe is going to establish a nationwide wireless broadband network to enable first responders to effectively communicate with one another and use new technology to improve response time. FNN is going to need significant investments and the public sector and the commercial wireless industry will need to be involved.

FirstNet will also be responsible for issuing open, transparent, and competitive Requests for Proposals, responsible for purchasing devices and services, and will oversee contracts with non-federal entities to build, operate, and maintain the network.

On September 25th, the FirstNet Board of Directors met to discuss several organizational and administrative plans. One of the items discussed included a request to the FCC to transfer the public safety spectrum license to FirstNet and to create a State, Regional, Local, and Tribal Consultation Committee.

Acting on behalf of the FirstNet Board, NTIA on October 4th in the Federal Register requested public comments on the FNN conceptual network design model presented at the board meeting. The Board is interested in innovative ideas on how to deploy a reliable interoperable broadband network for public safety users. To submit comments email by November 1, 2012

To further meet the needs of users in the public safety community, the Department of Homeland Security through the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) is working with the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, and the FCC. OEC is not only working with leaders at the federal level but also working with States, local entities, and at the tribal level.

Each State and territory in the U.S. currently now has a Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan in place. The Statewide Plans are locally-driven, multi-jurisdictional, and multidisciplinary to enhance emergency communities. The Statewide Plans will provide strategic directions to those responsible for interoperable communications at the state, regional, and local levels.

As efforts unfold for the Nationwide Network, states will work with their Statewide Interoperability Coordinators to incorporate broadband and other emerging technologies into their Statewide Plans. The States will be exploring how to include Chief Information Officers, and Chief Technology Officers into their existing governing bodies.

NTIA is engaged in other activities to advance public safety communication. These areas include the Public Safety Communication Research program, Public Safety Interoperability Communication Grant Program, and in addition grants were awarded with the Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to improve 911 services