COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and
Job Creation Act of 2012,
PS Docket No. 12-94; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband,
Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band,
PS Docket No. 06-229; Service
Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands
Our efforts today are a small piece of something historic. History was made in last year’s Middle
Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. It was in this law that Congress came together and determined to
right a long-standing wrong. More than a decade after the horror of 9/11 and many years after the watery
devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Congress sought to help public safety officials across the country by doing
something very simple—putting them all on the same airwaves. This facilitates interoperability, enhances
functionality, and creates scale that over time could reduce the cost of first responder communications. But
more than that, it means that those who wear the shield will be able to communicate better in crisis and make
us more safe.
Congress sought to make all of this happen through the First Responder Network Authority—or
FirstNet. Specifically, Congress charged FirstNet with the responsibility to help develop and operate a
nationwide, interoperable, public safety wireless broadband network using spectrum in the 700 MHz band.
When FirstNet’s board was first put in place fourteen months ago, they faced a steep climb. They
had to stand up an organization from scratch. They had to build their efforts on essential input from public
safety officials across the country. They had to consider how this network would be deployed in a way that is
smart, cost effective, and consistent with congressional goals.
This is a bold undertaking. Getting it done will require grit, gumption, and moving beyond the
conventional wisdom. But historic efforts usually do. And because progress sometimes occurs only in
obscurity, I think it is worth itemizing the good work done to date.
First, the organization. FirstNet is now staffed by full-time employees. This includes a well-
respected permanent management team with extensive experience in wireless networks, public safety
communications, governmental outreach, and financial management. Plus, more help is on its way. The
board recently approved a $194 million budget that will be used for—among other things—additional hiring
to support its work.
Second, the outreach. To make sure the voice of public safety is always heard, the FirstNet board
established a Public Safety Advisory Committee. This committee is made up of 41 individuals from every
segment of the public safety community—from state, local, and tribal entities to technology experts and
As part of its outreach efforts, the board has also acknowledged that the most important input is not
from Washington. It is from those on the front lines. So from its very first day, FirstNet reached out to state
and local public safety officials. It has held six regional workshops at which every state and virtually every
Third, the network. FirstNet has been laying the foundation for the network it will develop through a
series of public-private partnerships. Last year, the Commission helped move this effort along by
establishing a board that developed minimum technical standards to ensure nationwide interoperability for the
But FirstNet has gone further. It has issued 11 requests for information, seeking industry input on
wireless devices, network partnering and provisioning, antenna systems, satellite service, enhanced packet
core specifications, data centers, network operation centers and more. More importantly—industry has
responded with 340 jam-packed filings dense with information FirstNet will consider as its proceeds.
Finally, some locations are beyond the planning stages and are already moving ahead. To this end,
the board has approved spectrum leases with a major city, Los Angeles, and an entire state, New Mexico.
So what’s next? That is where our decision today comes in. It is small but important. We respond
to a call from FirstNet for consolidated service rules for their spectrum. Consolidated service rules make it
possible to develop and certify new equipment for the public safety network. They establish the technical
underpinnings for public safety communications to flourish in this band without disturbing their spectral
neighbors. But it is just as important to note what these rules do not do. Our rules are streamlined. They do
not layer on unnecessary requirements or duplicate build-out obligations already in the law. That is not what
Congress asked us to do, that is not what we do here. Instead, we make decisions to help FirstNet get off the
ground and get down to the business of improving public safety.
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