FirstNet board seeks 700 MHz spectrum, chooses advisory committee
As expected, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board voted to seek the license to 20 MHz of public-safety broadband spectrum in the 700 MHz band that will be used as the spectral platform for a nationwide LTE network, one of several items considered during today's initial meeting of the body.
"We're talking about a whole new model for how we provide applications to public safety, and I think it's a concept that's pretty exciting," FirstNet Chairman Sam Ginn said during the meeting, which was webcast.
After the swearing in of board members, FirstNet approved several resolutions, one of which concerns the initial steps for working with state and local governments, as well as early-mover entities that were prepared to deploy public-safety LTE projects this year before a directive from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) halted the efforts.
One of the approved resolutions calls for FirstNet to ask the FCC to transfer the license for 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band — the 10 MHz D Block and the adjacent 10 MHz of spectrum currently licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST). Previously, the FCC indicated it would transfer the license soon after FirstNet requested it.
Another resolution calls for members of SAFECOM to serve as the public-safety advisory committee for FirstNet. Under the resolution, Ginn will work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to select the advisory committee members, and Ginn will work with the FirstNet board to choose the committee's chairman and vice chairman.
Board member Craig Farrill made a conceptual presentation regarding a potential framework for the public-safety LTE network that featured diverse connectivity paths — terrestrial, satellite and deployable networks — to enhance reliability. Ginn made a similar presentation about the applications architecture that would leverage the modern commercial application-development model.
"In our operating center, we're going to have to define the interface requirements, and we're going to look at certification requirements," Ginn said. "Then, we're going to invite the world to help us develop apps for public-safety employees.
"We're going to call together outside developers at a conference and say, 'Here are the interface standards; here's what you need to get certified on our system. Now, go talk to your local public-safety people and see if you can develop an application which solves their problem.'"
Ginn also provided a high-level view of potential information-sharing arrangements between state, local and federal entities over the 700 MHz LTE network, and hinted about topics for the next FirstNet board meeting.
"At our next meeting, we'll have a serious update for you as to how this concept will work, if it will work and, if there are show stoppers, how we deal with them," Ginn said.