Texas gets another STA renewal from FCC, Harris County LTE to continue operating
Officials for FirstNet and the state of Texas still have not reached a spectrum-lease agreement, but the FCC today released an order granting 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, which concurred with the action.
Without an STA renewal or a spectrum-lease agreement with FirstNet, Harris County would have to cease operations of the public-safety LTE network on the spectrum licensed to FirstNet. The FCC’s most recent STA for Harris County was set to expire tomorrow, so the new STA was needed to let Harris County continue operating its public-safety LTE network.
Today’s action marks the fourth time that the FCC public-safety and homeland-security bureau has granted an STA to the state of Texas on behalf of the Harris County network. Officials for both Texas and Harris County have long expressed their desires to have the network operate on a more permanent basis with a long-term spectrum-lease agreement with FirstNet instead of repeatedly applying for STAs.
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.
Today’s STA order also stressed that the FCC’s public-safety and homeland-security gives “’considerable weight’ to FirstNet’s preferences regarding STA operations in its licensed spectrum.” FirstNet concurred with the FCC granting the 180-day STA renewal, according to the FCC order.
The FIrstNet board is expected to vote on extending spectrum-lease discussions with Texas at its next meeting on March 11, according to a FirstNet spokeswoman.