Friday, June 14, 2013

FirstNet Extends BTOP Negotiations, Again

The seven Public Safety Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant recipients are currently engaged in negotiations with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), through board member Sue Swenson.  The agencies, along with fellow early builder Harris County, Texas, were subject to a suspension of their pilot projects, in preparation for implementation of the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). 

FirstNet has decided to utilize these pilots as learning tools, and to set a standard of operations and infrastructure, in their planning efforts to build the NPSBN and the FirstNet organization which will run the network. 

The seven agencies include: the Adams County, CO Communications Center; the City of Charlotte, NC; the Executive Office of the State of Mississippi; the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority; Motorola Solutions (for the San Francisco Bay area); the New Jersey Department of the Treasury; and the New Mexico Department of Information Technology.  Harris County, TX, was not a BTOP grant recipient, but did receive authorization initially from the FCC to move forward with their LTE pilot.  Sue Swenson is negotiating a lease agreement with them as well.

Very little information has been released surrounding these spectrum lease negotiations, except  that according to Fierce Broadband there are concerns about the lease agreement terms - specifically the fear that states could opt out of FirstNet participation, risking the BTOP grantees' access to the 700 MHz spectrum, after an expensive buildout has already been initiated or in some cases completed.  The deadline for negotiations was extended for a second time, to July 12, 2013.

The resolution to extend the negotiations has a page but is not currently posted on the NTIA's website.

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