As expected, FirstNet board members yesterday granted another extension in the spectrum-lease negotiations with the state of Texas, which is acting on behalf of Harris County—the location of the only operational public-safety LTE network in the nation.

Yesterday’s five-month extension comes two weeks after the FCC granted a 180-day special temporary authority (STA) to the state of Texas that enables use of the 20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum licensed to FirstNet. In granting the STA, the FCC noted that it took the action only after getting concurrence from FirstNet

“We have been in conversations with Harris County, and we have supported their recent six-month STA from the Federal Communications Commission,” FirstNet General Manager Bill D’Agostino said during the board meeting, which was webcast. “We would like to continue these discussions and negotiations with them in the hopes of arriving at a [spectrum-lease] agreement for use of our Band 14 spectrum.

“We are awaiting some additional information from Harris County. We continue to remain in contact with them … This [five-month extension] will enable us to receive and review the specifics of their plans and come back to this board with a formal recommendation at that time.”

Representatives of Texas and FirstNet have been negotiating for almost a year without reaching a deal. In its STA application to the FCC, Texas officials stated that there are “very few issues remaining” to be resolved in the spectrum-lease talks but that “[a]dditional time is needed to conclude the negotiations,” according to the FCC order.