FirstNet extends spectrum talks with Texas, Harris County
FirstNet yesterday publicly released a resolution that allows its representatives to continue negotiations until Nov. 26 with the state of Texas on a spectrum-lease agreement to use Band 14 700 MHz airwaves. This will impact Harris County, Texas, which has the only operational public-safety LTE network in the country.
This is the second extension of the negotiation period with the state of Texas. The FirstNet board initially approved talks on April 23 and granted its first extension on July 22, which was scheduled to last until Aug. 29—the date when special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC allowing Harris County to use Band 14 spectrum was set to expire.
Because FirstNet Deputy General Manager TJ Kennedy and officials for the state of Texas agreed that “substantial progress” in the negotiations had been made and that a deal can be reached, an extension was requested, according to the resolution. On Aug. 27, the FCC issued another 90-day STA that will remain in effect until Nov. 26, and the FirstNet board has extended the negotiation period to Nov. 26.
Harris County completed the first phase of its public-safety LTE network prior to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) freezing such deployments after the law establishing FirstNet was enacted last year. That network has been operating under a series of STAs granted by the FCC.
Harris County officials have indicated that they would like to complete the deployment plans for the network, but only if the county has a permanent arrangement to use the spectrum from the licensee—FirstNet—instead of temporary authority to do so from the FCC.
Motorola Solutions is the vendor for the Harris County LTE network. During the recent Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) show, Bob Schassler—senior vice president of government solutions for Motorola Solutions—said he believes it is important to FirstNet to have some operational early deployments of public-safety LTE, so FirstNet can better plan its nationwide buildout.
“I think it would be a shame for us—as a country—not to let some of these move forward,” Schassler said. “We’ve got to get started on this, because, frankly, we all have a lot to learn, and the only way we’re going to learn it is by deploying some of these networks and have the users start using these networks.”
“Somehow, we’ve got to get this moving and get some momentum going on this. It would be a shame, if we just … stand still for the next two years and nothing gets done. I think FirstNet sees it that way, as well.”