FCC commissioners this week unanimously approved technical rules for the Band 14 700 MHz broadband spectrum licensed to FirstNet, allowing the commission to certify devices developed by manufacturers for sale to first-responder entities operating on those airwaves.

FCC certification for Band 14 devices had been frozen, pending release of the rules that address power limits and other technical parameters for operating on the 20 MHz of spectrum licensed to FirstNet. With the passage of these rules, the FCC’s office of engineering and technology can begin accepting and processing applications for equipment certification in the band.

“This order takes technical rules found in Part 27 and Part 90 for the 700 MHz public-safety broadband spectrum and consolidates them into a harmonized set of Part 90 rules,” Commissioner Ajit Pai said during the FCC meeting, which was webcast. “By giving the private sector technical certainty and paving the way for the prompt certification of devices, today’s item should help the equipment market for the 700 MHz public-safety band to develop and for innovation to flourish. 

“The end result, all of us hope, will be a bevy of nationally portable, interoperable public-safety broadband devices.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel described the order as “a small piece of something historic,” referencing the overall potential impact of a nationwide public-safety broadband network.

“Consolidated service rules make it possible to develop and certify new equipment for the public-safety network,” Rosenworcel said during the meeting. “They establish the technical underpinnings for public-safety communications to flourish in this band without disturbing their spectral neighbors.

“But it is just as important to note what these rules do not do. Our rules are streamlined. They do not layer on unnecessary requirements or duplicate buildout obligations already in the law.”

In a prepared statement, FirstNet General Manager Bill D’Agostino expressed support for the FCC’s action.

“We thank the FCC for issuing its order implementing technical and operational rules for FirstNet,” D’Agostino said. “Unification of the technical-service requirements consolidates and streamlines regulatory requirements applicable to the public-safety broadband network.

“We also applaud the FCC's actions in lifting the freeze on device certifications, paving the way for certification of devices in Band 14. This will enable vendors to ship products capable of operating over the FirstNet network in the near future.”