FCC clears path for FirstNet spectrum license
A license transfer for the public-safety broadband spectrum at 700 MHz will be executed as soon as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board makes a request for the frequencies, according to an FCC order released last week.
Written by the FCC's public safety and homeland security bureau, the order is a necessary but largely administrative action that reflects the directives Congress gave to the FCC when it passed legislation in February that reallocated the 700 MHz D Block to public safety. The legislation also called for $7 billion in federal funding to help pay for the buildout of a nationwide LTE network for first responders.
In the order, the FCC notes that it will grant FirstNet a license for 20 MHz of 700 MHz broadband spectrum — the D Block and the 10 MHz of spectrum currently licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) — to meet the mandate from Congress.
"FirstNet's board has been appointed, and it is now itself in a position to file a request on its own for the license to which it is entitled under the Public Safety Spectrum Act," the FCC order states. "Accordingly, we are prepared to take the ministerial step of granting a new license to FirstNet under a new call sign as soon as possible, after FirstNet informs the bureau that it has been established in accordance with the terms of the Public Safety Spectrum Act."
Yesterday, the FirstNet board announced that it has scheduled its initial meeting for Sept. 25.
PSST Chairman Harlin McEwen said that the FCC order did not include any surprises.
"It is the same end result, and it's exactly what we were expecting," McEwen said during an interview with Urgent Communications.