Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

Implementing Provisions of Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012

Download Options

Released: July 31, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions )
PS Docket No. 12-94
of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation )
Act of 2012
)
)
Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777- )
WT Docket No. 06-150
792 MHz Bands
)
)
Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband,
)
PS Docket No. 06-229
Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700
)
MHz Band
)

ORDER

Adopted: July 30, 2012

Released: July 31, 2012

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski and Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel issuing
separate statements; Commissioner McDowell concurring and issuing a statement; Commissioner Pai
approving in part, concurring in part, and issuing a statement.
1.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (“Public Safety Spectrum
Act” or “Act”),1 enacted February 22, 2012, fundamentally altered the regulatory landscape for the 700
MHz band, providing a Congressionally developed long-term vision for using this spectrum to deploy a
nationwide public safety broadband network. The Act establishes the First Responder Network
Authority (FirstNet) to develop this network, under an FCC license for both the existing public safety
broadband spectrum (763-769 MHz/793-799 MHz) and the spectrally adjacent D Block (758-763
MHz/788-793 MHz). FirstNet will have a formidable task in front of it. The ultimate success of FirstNet
will require the expertise of its appointed board members and each of the Federal agencies charged with
its support. Once established, we recognize that FirstNet will need time to consider its plan for the
network, develop the details of the nationwide architecture, and implement a deployment schedule. At
the same time, it is important that the Commission take all action necessary to keep Americans safe in the
intervening time period. Under the Public Safety Spectrum Act, the Commission has been tasked with
facilitating the transition of the spectrum so that FirstNet, once it is fully formed and operational, will be
able to proceed in an environment that fosters the fundamental vision of Congress to promote a truly
interoperable nationwide public safety broadband network.2
2.
We also recognize, however, that prior to the enactment of the Public Safety Spectrum
Act some public safety jurisdictions were on the verge of implementing statewide or regional networks
designed ultimately to support such nationwide interoperability. In this Order, we adopt an approach to
allow limited deployment of public safety broadband services to first responders in the existing public


1 Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012).
2 See Public Safety Spectrum Act § 6201(c) (requiring Commission to “take all actions necessary to facilitate the transition of
the existing public safety broadband spectrum to the First Responder Network Authority”).

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

safety broadband spectrum (763-768/793-798 MHz) pursuant to our existing Special Temporary
Authority (STA) rules.3 We expect that this will be the case in very few instances, and only where we
can conclude that such deployment clearly serves the public interest and will not be detrimental to the
Public Safety Spectrum Act’s goals or likely to jeopardize FirstNet’s mandate to deploy a nationwide
interoperable public safety broadband network. We believe that the public interest might be strongly
served where, among other things, a project is near completion in terms of development and has been the
subject of sustained investment over time, where it will address a significant and specific public-safety
need, and where it is consistent with the “recommended minimum technical requirements” for
nationwide interoperability recently developed by the Interoperability Board. We discuss below in more
detail the instances where the Commission might be inclined to find extraordinary circumstances have
been demonstrated.

I.

BACKGROUND

3.
The Commission first developed a framework for a nationwide public safety broadband
network in 2007 under a “public-private partnership” regulatory model. The Commission adopted rules
requiring the eventual commercial licensee of the 700 MHz D Block spectrum (758-763/788-793 MHz)
to enter a partnership with the licensee of the existing public safety broadband spectrum (763-769/793-
799 MHz) to construct and operate a shared wireless broadband network in the spectrum associated with
both licenses.4 The Commission auctioned the D Block under these terms in 2008 but did not receive a
winning bid.5 As the Commission revisited its policies in light of the auction failure,6 a number of states
and localities filed waiver petitions to deploy and operate 700 MHz public safety broadband networks
within their jurisdictions in advance of nationwide deployment.7 In May 2010 the Commission granted
early deployment waivers to twenty-one public safety jurisdictions (Waiver Recipients),8 seven of which
were later granted a total of approximately $382 million under the Broadband Technology Opportunities
Program (BTOP) to construct their networks.9 These waivers were premised, in part, on the
Commission’s determination that it would be able to “advance the goal of nationwide interoperability by


3 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.931(b). We also recognize that there is an existing process under Part 5 of our rules for experimental
licenses and STAs. This approach we adopt today does not displace Part 5 authorizations under the standards set forth in those
rules. We will continue to entertain applications for such authorization so long as such requests satisfy those standards and do
not undermine the considerations articulated here.
4 See Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 Bands; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable
Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band, WT Docket No. 06-150, PS Docket No. 06-229, Second Report and Order, 22
FCC Rcd 15289 (2007) (Second Report and Order).
5 See Auction of 700 MHz Band Licenses Closes, Public Notice, DA 08-595, at 2 (Mar. 20, 2008).
6 Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 Bands; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band, WT Docket No. 06-150, PS Docket No. 06-229, Second Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
, 22 FCC Rcd 8047 (2008); Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 14301 (2008).
7 See, e.g., Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on Petitions for Waiver to Deploy 700 MHz Public
Safety Broadband Networks, DA 09-1819 (rel. Aug. 14, 2009).
8 See Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz Interoperable Public Safety Wireless
Broadband Networks, PS Docket 06-229, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5145 (2010) (Waiver Order). A list of pending narrowband
deployment waiver petitions can be found in the Appendix.
9 See, e.g., National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program,
Quarterly Report at 1 (Sept. 2011), available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/10th-btop-quarterly-
congressional-report-sept-2011.pdf (last visited May 15, 2012).
2

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

granting the waiver requests with appropriate conditions.”10
4.
The Waiver Order authorizes the Waiver Recipients to deploy in the public safety
broadband spectrum under long term de facto spectrum transfer leases from the Public Safety Spectrum
Trust (PSST), the current public safety broadband licensee.11 A Standard Lease appended to the Waiver
Order
provided that the PSST would grant each Waiver Recipient spectrum lessee “maximum usage
rights [over the public safety broadband spectrum]” within the lessee’s geographic area of operation.12
The Waiver Order also imposed on the Waiver Recipients a number of technical and operational
conditions, including requirements to adhere to the 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology
platform and the obligation to submit an “interoperability showing” to the Public Safety and Homeland
Security Bureau (Bureau) detailing plans for achieving interoperability.13 In May 2011, the Bureau
granted a waiver under the same conditions to the State of Texas (Texas), 14 whose constituent
jurisdiction, Harris County, had obtained a grant for its network from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency in the Department of Homeland Security.15
5.
The Public Safety Spectrum Act became law on February 22, 2012. It provides a
statutory framework for the deployment of a nationwide public safety broadband network based on a
single, nationwide network architecture. That framework differs from the one on which the waiver
authorizations were based. The Act directs the Commission to reallocate the D Block for public safety
services and to assign a license for both the D Block and the existing public safety broadband spectrum
to FirstNet,16 an independent authority to be formed within the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce.17
6.
FirstNet will be the primary architect of the nationwide network. It will be responsible
for taking “all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment and operation of the nationwide
public safety broadband network.”18 Among other things, these tasks include developing requests for
proposals (RFPs) with appropriate construction timelines, coverage areas, service levels, performance
criteria and similar matters, and consulting with regional, State, tribal and local jurisdictions on matters
such as build out, tower placement, coverage areas and other local issues.19 As noted above, the
Commission is required to “take all actions necessary to facilitate the transition” of the existing public


10 Waiver Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5150 ¶ 14.
11 See id. at 5153 ¶ 24.
12 See id. at 5173 app. B.
13 See id. at 5157, 5164 ¶¶ 38, 55. The Public Safety and Homeland Security (PSHSB) supplemented the requirements of the
Waiver Order with further technical requirements it developed in consultation with its Emergency Response Interoperability
Center (ERIC). See Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz Interoperable Public
Safety Wireless Broadband Networks, PS Docket No. 06-229, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 17156 (PSHSB 2010) (Interoperability
Waiver Order
).
14 See Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz Interoperable Public Safety Wireless
Broadband Networks, PS Docket 06-229, Order, 26 FCC Rcd 6783 (PSHSB 2011) (Texas Waiver Order). For purposes of this
order, the term “Waiver Recipients” encompasses the State of Texas.
15 Id. at 6783 ¶ 1.
16 Public Safety Spectrum Act §§ 6101(a), 6201(a).
17 Id.§§ 6101(a); 6201(a); 6206(b)(1).
18 Id. § 6206(b)(1)
19 Id. § 6202(c).
3

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

safety broadband spectrum to FirstNet.20 The Public Safety Spectrum Act also prescribes a process by
which a state may opt out of participation in the nationwide network, subject to Commission approval.21
Finally, the Public Safety Spectrum Act established within the Commission a Technical Advisory Board
for First Responder Interoperability (Interoperability Board) charged with developing and submitting to
the Commission recommended minimum technical requirements for nationwide interoperability.22 These
recommended requirements, as approved for transmittal to FirstNet by the Commission, must be
incorporated without material change into FirstNet’s RFPs for network construction and operation.23
7.
On April 6, 2012, the Bureau released a public notice (Transition Public Notice) that
sought comment on the disposition of Waiver Recipient deployments in light of the Public Safety
Spectrum Act.24 The Transition Public Notice asked questions about whether preserving these
deployments, either under renewed leases or special temporary authority (STA), would be appropriate.
The notice also sought comment on the possibility of terminating them.25 Finally, the notice asked
whether Waiver Recipients with stated plans for entering service in the near term, including Texas and
the City of Charlotte, North Carolina (Charlotte), may be capable of delivering short-term public safety
benefits that merit special consideration.26
8.
The majority of comments on the Transition Public Notice assert that the Commission
should preserve and extend existing waiver deployments in conjunction with the licensing of FirstNet,
either under renewed spectrum leases or under STAs.27 The PSST Operator Advisory Committee (OAC),
which comprises all twenty-one Waiver Recipients, recommends transferring the leases to FirstNet and
extending them for two years, or at least until FirstNet is “up and running” and “in a position to make a
decision on continuing the leases.”28 The OAC does not support the use of STAs as a mechanism for
extending their deployments, contending that such authorizations “would not provide sufficient
certainty” to stakeholders. Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola Solutions and other equipment manufacturers also


20 Id. § 6201(c).
21 Id. § 6302(e).
22 Id. § 6203(c).
23 Id. § 6206(b)(1)(B). The Interoperability Board submitted its recommendations to the Commission on May 22, 2012. See
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Filing, PS Docket 12-74 (May 23, 2012). The Commission transmitted the
recommendations to NTIA on June 21, 2012, as required by statute. Recommendations of the Technical Advisory Board for
First Responder Interoperability, PS Docket No. 12-74, Order of Transmittal, FCC 12-68 (June 21, 2012) (Transmittal Order).
24 See Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on Transition Process for 700 MHz Public Safety
Broadband Waiver Recipients, PS Docket No. 12-94, Public Notice, DA 12-555 (PSHSB Apr. 6, 2012).
25 See id.
26 See id.
27 See, e.g., Comments of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Operator Advisory Committee, PS Docket 12-94 at 1 (filed Apr.
19, 2012) (PSST-OAC Comments); Comments of Public Safety Spectrum Trust, PS Docket 12-94 at; Comments of Alcatel-
Lucent, PS Docket 12-94 at 3-4; Comments of Ericsson, PS Docket 12-94 at 2 (filed Apr. 20, 2012); Comments of General
Dynamics C4 Systems, PS Docket 12-94 at 1 (filed Apr. 20, 2012); Comments of IPWireless, PS Docket 12-94 at 1 filed Apr.
20, 2012); Comments of Motorola Solutions, PS Docket 12-94 at 2-3 (filed Apr. 20, 2012); Comments of the
Telecommunications Industry Association, PS Docket 12-94 at 2 (filed Apr. 20, 2012); Comments of Utilities Telecom
Council, PS Docket 12-94 at 1 (filed Apr. 20, 2012).
28 PSST-OAC Comments at 3.
4

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

filed comments in support of continued deployment, under either leases or STAs.29 Alcatel-Lucent
explains that “the Commission has many mechanisms available to allow the current and new waiver
recipients to continue with deployment” and that any of these mechanisms could serve the objectives of
the Public Safety Spectrum Act.30 Motorola Solutions contends that “nothing in the Public Safety
Spectrum Act requires the Commission to terminate the waivers” and that Waiver Recipient deployments
“would provide significant benefits to the public safety broadband network initiative.”31 It further
supports continued authority for the waiver jurisdictions under an STA process with appropriate
safeguards, for 180 days or longer in order to “give these jurisdictions some reasonable expectation that
they will be able to make full use of the spectrum.”32 In addition, some commenters recommend that
Waiver Recipient authorizations be expanded to permit operation in the D Block, which the Public Safety
Spectrum Act directs the Commission to reallocate for public safety services and to assign to FirstNet.33
OAC explains that the Public Safety Spectrum Act “envisions construction of a single network using
[both the D Block and the public safety broadband spectrum].”34
9.
Commenters that support continued deployment cite a number of potential benefits in
enabling the waiver deployments to continue for some period after FirstNet is licensed. The OAC
explains that the deployments are “providing a wealth of valuable information about best practices and
lessons learned for broadband wireless deployments—information that will be critical to the success of
FirstNet.”35 The PSST further observes that “it could be years before FirstNet will be ready to begin
deployment” and that Waiver Recipient deployment in the meantime “could contribute valuable real-
world experience to assist in the development of the eventual nationwide network.”36 The State of Texas
identifies concrete public safety benefits its network could provide, such as “higher quality telemetry, on-
sight analysis” and other tools to assist emergency response during the 2012 hurricane and tropical storm
season, which commenced June 1.37 The network could also provide capabilities to protect “rural areas
from wildfires and floods” and to improve communications in the city of Baytown, home of “the largest
oil refinery” in the United States.38 In explaining the unique benefits that deployment of its own network
could bring, Charlotte emphasizes that the services offered by commercial broadband networks are
incapable of meeting its public safety requirements, as such networks suffer from “unpredictable network
performance” and can even become “unavailable due to congestion” during major events. Charlotte
further insists that commercial networks do not provide the ability “to prioritize traffic” or “allow
modification of traffic priorities and User Equipment (UEs) access during critical incidents” and that
they fail to provide “sufficient visibility into network management.”39


29 See generally Alcatel-Lucent Comments; Motorola Solutions Comments; IPWireless Comments; General Dynamics
Comments; TIA Comments; see also, Motorola Solutions Ex Parte Filing, PS Docket No. 12-94 at 1 (June 29, 2012) (Motorola
Solutions June 29 Ex Parte).
30 Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 13.
31 Motorola Solutions Ex Parte Filing, PS Docket 12-94 at 1 (filed May 25, 2012) (Motorola Solutions May 25 Ex Parte).
32 Motorola Solutions June 29 Ex Parte at 1.
33 See OAC Comments at 4; Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 23-24; General Dynamics Comments at 1.
34 OAC Comments at 4.
35 OAC Comments at 7.
36 PSST Comments at 4.
37 See State of Texas Filing, PS Docket 12-94 at 4 (filed June 1, 2012).
38 See id. at 5-6.
39 See City of Charlotte Filing, PS Docket 06-229 at 1 (filed June 1, 2012).
5

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

10.
A number of commenters also warn that significant investment would be wasted were the
Waiver Recipient deployments precipitously halted.40 The City of Charlotte, a Waiver Recipient with an
approximately $17 million BTOP grant, explains that it “has already incurred all the costs associated
with [its first phase of deployment]” and that failure to complete its network implementation on schedule
would create millions of dollars in additional costs to be paid for in “taxpayer dollars.”41 Charlotte further
believes that permitting the most advanced Waiver Recipient deployments to continue would not “impose
any additional cost on FirstNet.”42 Charlotte explains that its network is “being built with the same
equipment and to the same specifications as FirstNet itself would utilize” and that its network could be
“easily integrated” into the FirstNet system once it is developed.43
11.
Motorola Solutions also considers and rejects the argument that extending early
deployments might jeopardize the long-term interoperability of the network, explaining that “there is
already a broad understanding of what ultimate requirements for interoperability will look like, and this
understanding has been integrated from the start into the development of the [Waiver Recipients’]
networks.”44 Alcatel-Lucent suggests that the Commission could further safeguard interoperability by
requiring Waiver Recipient deployments to adhere to the Interoperability Board’s recommended
requirements as transmitted to FirstNet.45 Harris Corporation also supports “discreet” [sic] deployments,
but suggests that the Commission must further condition such deployments, by STA or otherwise, on
“conclusive proof” of interoperability including requiring testing and certifications beyond that which
was required by the Waiver Order, consisting of “Phase 3” multi-vendor interoperability testing through
the Public Safety Communications Research Program (PSCR) at the National Institute for Science and
Technology (NIST).46
12.
The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), on
the other hand, contends that the Public Safety Spectrum Act vests FirstNet with “the decisions
concerning the use of [the public safety broadband spectrum], including whether to permit spectrum
leases.”47 APCO urges the Commission to deny all pending waiver requests and replace the existing
waivers with STAs that expire sixty days after FirstNet receives its license, with any further deployment
by Waiver Recipients left “solely . . . to the discretion of FirstNet.”48


40 See, e.g., Comments of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the National Association of
Counties, the National League of Cities, and the United States Conference of Mayors, PS Docket 12-94 at 3 (filed Apr. 20,
2012) (NATOA et al. Comments); OAC Comments at 9; Charlotte Comments at 11.
41 Charlotte Comments at 11; see also Comments of the State of Mississippi, PS Docket 12-94 at 8 (filed Apr. 20, 2012)
(Mississippi Comments).
42 Charlotte Comments at 10.
43 Id. On May 11, 2012, NTIA sent letters to the seven BTOP recipients announcing a partial suspension of their awards “to
determine the best course forward for [the grants] that ensures, as best we can, that the equipment and facilities built with
taxpayer funds will be incorporated into the new national public safety broadband network.” See, e.g., Letter from Lawrence E.
Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, Department of Commerce, to Charles Robinson, City of
Charlotte (dated May 11, 2012), available at http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/files/grantees/20120511095904533.pdf).
44 Motorola Solutions Comments at 11.
45 See Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 21.
46 See Ex Parte filing of Harris Corporation, PS Docket No. 12-94 (July 17, 2012).
47 Comments of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, PS Docket 12-94 at 3 (filed Apr. 20. 2012)
(APCO Comments).
48 Id.
6

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

13.
NTIA, the federal agency in which FirstNet will be housed as an independent authority,
argues that the Public Safety Spectrum Act requires the Commission “to dismiss any pending 700 MHz
public safety waiver applications and to terminate existing leases in the public safety broadband
spectrum.”49 The Public Safety Spectrum Act “made no provision for [the] continuation” of Waiver
Recipient deployments, NTIA explains, and FirstNet’s license is to be granted “with no encumbrances
specified.”50 NTIA further contends that enabling these deployments to continue “jeopardizes
nationwide interoperability and ultimately could increase the cost of the nationwide network,” as
“[s]ystems separately designed and sourced by each [Waiver Recipient] . . . create obvious technical
challenges for harmonious communications.”51 Moreover, they argue, “[f]or FirstNet to be successful, it
must avoid the balkanization that has plagued earlier efforts at interoperable public safety
communications and must find ways to lower costs by the economies of scale that ensue from
consolidated procurement.”52 NTIA further argues that continuation of the waiver deployments would be
at odds with “the considerable flexibility” granted FirstNet “to make nimble, cost-effective, and rational
business decisions” that “avoid the balkanization that has plagued earlier efforts at interoperable public
safety communications.”53
14.
NTIA further observes that it recently announced a partial suspension of the seven BTOP
awards granted to Waiver Recipient jurisdictions, an action taken to ensure that the funds “are spent on
facilities and equipment that will be incorporated into FirstNet’s single, nationwide public safety
broadband network.”54 BTOP projects are permitted to continue, NTIA explains, but grantees are
directed to “avoid ‘high-risk’ investments that are likely to require replacement if they are incompatible
with [the nationwide network].”55

II.

DISCUSSION

15.
Commenters recognize the important role of FirstNet and many of them argue that early
deployments could deliver public safety benefits in the near term and provide FirstNet with valuable
information before FirstNet develops and executes a plan to provide service within any particular
jurisdiction. In this Order, we adopt an approach for short-term early deployment for public safety
jurisdictions where the public interest strongly supports the grant of an STA, based on an individual
showing of extraordinary circumstances. We also provide guidance on the types of circumstances that
we might conclude compels a finding that an STA would be in the public interest. In doing so, we are
seeking to identify those projects that are sufficiently advanced such that they provide significant public-
safety benefits and, at the same time, will not impede FirstNet’s task of establishing a nationwide
interoperable network.
16.
The Commission found in the Waiver Order that granting public safety jurisdictions’
requests for waiver relief would allow them “to begin deployment and speed services to the public safety
community” and to “take advantage of available or potential funding, either through grants or planned


49 Comments of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, PS Docket 12-94 at 1 (filed May 17, 2012)
(NTIA Comments).
50 Id. at 4.
51 Id. at 4.
52 Id. at 5.
53 Id. at 5.
54 Id. at 6.
55 Id.
7

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

budgetary expenditures, as well as to take advantage of economies of scale and other cost saving
measures for deployments that are already planned.”56 As a number of commenters observe, it may be
several years before FirstNet commences deployment of the nationwide network pursuant to the Public
Safety Spectrum Act in a particular location.57 In the interim, early deployers could take advantage of
time-critical funding opportunities to deploy networks that fulfill time-sensitive public safety needs for
broadband services and that vastly expand the emergency communications capabilities of first
responders. They may also be able to capitalize on expenditures and efforts to date to avoid unduly
stranding investment, where abandoning a project might be costlier in terms of money, effort and risk of
non-integration than it would be to finish the job. The Public Safety Spectrum Act does not preclude the
Commission from exercising its authority to pursue these objectives so long as they are consistent with
the Commission’s duty to facilitate the transition of the spectrum to FirstNet. Moreover, Section 4.1.4 of
the Recommended Minimum Technical Requirements provides a path for integrating and leveraging
systems that are deployed prior to the installation of the FirstNet authority.58
17.
The OAC recommends that the Commission extend all of the Waiver Recipients’
deployments by requiring a “transition” of their spectrum leases from the PSST to FirstNet along with
the FirstNet license, in effect making FirstNet the lessor of spectrum to Waiver Recipients.59 To
accomplish this transition, Alcatel-Lucent suggests that the Commission could impose on FirstNet’s
license the condition that it negotiate and enter into lease agreements with Waiver Recipients under
appropriate terms.60 Both Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola Solutions argue that the Commission could
exercise its traditional authority under Title III of the Communications Act to impose conditions of this
sort on FirstNet’s license.61 Motorola Solutions explains that the Public Safety Spectrum Act places no
affirmative limitations on the Commission’s ability to “adopt appropriate conditions and restrictions for
[FirstNet’s] license,” such as the condition that FirstNet accept its license subject to the continuation of
waiver deployments in its licensed spectrum.62
18.
We have not been persuaded, however, that a “transition” and extension of the PSST’s
obligations as spectrum lessor in the form of a mandatory condition on FirstNet’s license would best
serve the public interest. While we agree that the Public Safety Spectrum Act designates FirstNet as a
Commission licensee subject to the Commission’s traditional licensing authority, spectrum leasing
policies for such licensees have been premised on the efficiencies that a voluntary secondary market can
achieve through lease of spectrum. We are also mindful of FirstNet’s unique statutory role in deploying
a nationwide network that promotes public safety access to broadband communications and
interoperability among disparate jurisdictions. The Act charges FirstNet with specific tasks and
responsibilities that serve the larger objective of establishing this network on a nationwide basis.
Requiring FirstNet to assign Waiver Recipients “maximum [usage] rights”63 or similar rights in its
licensed spectrum as a condition of the license the Commission grants to FirstNet might constrain


56 Waiver Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5150 ¶ 14.
57 See OAC Comments at 3; PSST Comments at 4; NPSTC Comments at 5.
58 Transmittal Order at Appx. A Section 4.1.4
59 OAC Comments at 3.
60 See Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 13-15.
61 See Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 7-8; Motorola Solutions May 25 Ex Parte at 1-3.
62 Motorola Solutions May 25 Ex Parte at 3.
63 See Waiver Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5173 app. B (providing as a term of the Standard Lease that the PSST assign “maximum
usage rights” to each Waiver Recipient spectrum lessee).
8

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

FirstNet’s ability to determine how to deploy and operate the network and address requests for access to
or use of it by third parties64 and may undercut the Commission’s obligation to “facilitate the transition”
of this spectrum to FirstNet.65 At the very least, FirstNet is not yet in position to negotiate and enter
spectrum lease agreements with Waiver Recipients and has had no opportunity to consider how and
under what terms and conditions such leases might fit, if at all, within its broader deployment plans.
Although voluntarily leasing spectrum to early deploying jurisdictions could potentially factor into these
plans, this is a matter that appears premature for consideration until FirstNet is in a position to consider
those issues.
19.
The Waiver Recipients’ spectrum leases with the PSST are necessary to give effect to
their waiver authorizations, as the leases provide them the means of accessing and using the spectrum.
Given our determination not to mandate the transfer of these leases to FirstNet, we find no reason to
permit the underlying waivers to remain in effect once spectrum rights are transitioned to FirstNet from
the PSST. Rather, we find that establishing a date certain for the termination of all waiver authorizations
would help “facilitate the transition” of spectrum to FirstNet by eliminating any potential confusion
regarding the respective rights and interests of each party in the spectrum. Accordingly, we will hold all
waiver authorizations ineffective as of September 2, 2012, the date the majority of the Waiver
Recipients’ leases will expire of their own terms. Consistent with this approach, we also dismiss all
pending requests to deploy either public safety broadband or narrowband networks in this spectrum
under Commission waiver,66 as well as the request filed by the City and County of San Francisco, City of
Oakland and the City of San Jose, Calif. (Bay Area Cities), for an extension of the sixty-day deadline for
entering a lease agreement with the PSST.67
20.
With the termination of Waiver Recipients’ spectrum leases and underlying waivers
imminent, we must contemplate alternative mechanisms of enabling early deployments to proceed into
operation under appropriate circumstances. One possible mechanism identified in the Transition Public
Notice
is the issuance of STAs. This well-established form of Commission authorization permits
temporary operations on a secondary, non-interference basis in specified circumstances, such as
transitional periods when traditional licensing is not a viable option.68 In the 800 MHz band
reconfiguration proceeding, for example, public safety licensees have been granted STAs to support
necessary system expansion during the period immediately prior to rebanding of their frequencies.69


64 Public Safety Spectrum Act §§ 6206, 6208.
65 Id. § 6201(c).
66 These petitions are listed in Appendix A. Because grant of any of these petitions would frustrate the policies articulated in
this order, designed to implement the transition of this spectrum to FirstNet under that Act, and in accordance with the public
interest requirements of the Communications Act, we find that none of these petitions can satisfy the requirements for a
Commission waiver. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3). See also id. § 1.3.
67 See Request for Waiver filed by the City and County of San Francisco, the City of Oakland and the City of San Jose, Calif.,
PS Docket 06-229 (filed Dec. 23, 2011). The Bay Area Cities request that the Commission “waive the 60-day time limit for
entering into a de facto transfer spectrum lease with the Public Safety Spectrum Trust ("PSST") established in the
Commission's May 2010 Waiver Order and expeditiously authorize a new de facto transfer spectrum lease between the PSST
and the Petitioners, the Bay Area Cities, because the original lease was not authorized by the Bay Area Cities and should be
deemed invalid.” Id. at ii. Given the impending termination of the Bay Area Cities’ underlying waiver authority, we find no
justification for granting their waiver request.
68 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.931(b).
69 See Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Provides Guidance for Public Safety Licensees With Regard to License
Application and Special Temporary Authorization Procedures and Payment of Frequency Relocation Costs for Public Safety
Facilities Added During 800 MHz Band Reconfiguration, WT Docket 02-55, Public Notice, 21 FCC Rcd 14658 (PSHSB
2006).
9

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

STA are also contemplated under the Commission’s secondary markets rules as a mechanism to allow for
the transition of spectrum lessee operations when a lessor’s license is revoked or cancelled.70
21.
The OAC opposes reliance on STAs to extend the Waiver Recipient deployments,
contending that STAs cannot provide the requisite certainty to the Waiver Recipients to justify further
investment in these projects. They explain that the provision of service to public safety agencies “will
require a more definite arrangement than is afforded under STA” and that “Waiver Recipients cannot
formulate business plans if issued STAs as there would be instability in the reissuance of STAs every six
months.”71 Alcatel-Lucent, on the other hand, suggests that STA could support temporary operations for
“an appropriate transitional time period to facilitate a long term solution.”72
22.
We find that our well-established STA process presents the best option for permitting
early deployment in the public safety broadband spectrum when circumstances warrant, consistent with
the Commission’s obligation to “facilitate the transition” of spectrum by license to FirstNet and
consistent with FirstNet’s unique statutory charges. Moreover, we observe that the risks OAC associates
with STAs are not unique to this form of authorization, as the Waiver Recipients’ authority to operate
under spectrum leases pursuant to waiver has always been contingent on the Commission’s rulemaking
determinations and has always been at the Waiver Recipients’ own risk.73 Also, these deployments have
always been subject to the possibility that legislation such as the Public Safety Spectrum Act would be
passed by Congress and become law, thus altering the legal and regulatory requirements for the spectrum.
That Act now imposes new obligations on the Commission to address the most appropriate way to
facilitate the transition of this spectrum to FirstNet, and it emphasizes the need to base the network to be
established under that regime on “a single, national network architecture.”74 We are confident, however,
based on our previous experience with STAs, that such authority can allow for critical public safety
broadband operations in this spectrum on a transitional basis as FirstNet gains its footing, if carefully
tailored to permit only limited incremental investments that are needed to allow the realization of the
substantial amount of effort and deployment to date, that will deliver near-term public safety benefits that
cannot be substantially achieved by existing services, and that do not jeopardize the interoperability goals
for FirstNet that form the centerpiece of the Public Safety Spectrum Act regime.
23.
We emphasize that in discharging our new statutory obligation to facilitate the transition
of this spectrum for use by FirstNet, we will hold applicants to a rigorous standard “involving
circumstances which are of such extraordinary nature that delay in the institution of temporary operation
would seriously prejudice the public interest.”75 STA applications will be considered and evaluated on a
case-by-case basis, based on the detailed facts and circumstances unique to each applicant and the needs
of its jurisdiction, as is our normal practice with STAs. Any public safety entity, including Waiver
Recipients and jurisdictions that filed waiver requests dismissed in this Order, may apply for an STA to
operate in the existing public safety broadband spectrum consistent with our current rules. However, we
discourage potential applicants from seeking relief on the basis of vague or speculative plans or those


70 See 47 C.F.R. 1.9030(j)(2). Section 1.9030 of the Commission’s rules governs the spectrum leasing the PSST carried out
pursuant to the Waiver Order and was incorporated by reference into the Standard Lease agreement. See Waiver Order, 25
FCC Rcd at 5172 app B.
71 OAC Comments at 6.
72 Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 15.
73 See Waiver Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5165 ¶ 62.
74 Public Safety Spectrum Act § 6202(b).
75 47 C.F.R. § 1.931(b)(2)(v).
10

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

that have not already achieved several stages of important deployment milestones such as ordering,
receipt and deployment of equipment, completion of site preparation, and other similar activities. Such
applications would not be sufficient to support a finding that the public interest would benefit from such
a grant, and that an STA would be necessary in facilitating the transition to FirstNet. A pattern of
sustained investment, both monetary and in terms of planning and construction, will provide the most
compelling basis for a positive evaluation, particularly that which was completed prior to the February
22, 2012 enactment of the Public Safety Spectrum Act. Early-stage preparatory efforts such as
developing a site plan or selecting a vendor will not be sufficient to meet the public interest, nor will
sporadic activity or “ramped up” recent activity designed solely to seek an STA. Recognizing the
paramount importance of the broad goals of the Public Safety Spectrum Act to ensure a nationwide
interoperable public safety broadband network, we anticipate granting an STA only to jurisdictions with
concrete and viable plans for delivering vital broadband services to public safety customers in the near
term that have already been substantially executed, and which have the funding to be completed in a
timely fashion in a manner that will satisfy pressing public safety needs.
24.
We will examine each STA application on a case-by-case basis based upon whether the
applicant’s unique facts and circumstances satisfy the requirements of our current STA rules. We note at
the outset that our intention is not to over-burden those entities seeking an STA and that time is of the
essence. For this reason, we will consider previously-filed materials incorporated by reference in the
STA application. In so doing, filers should be specific about what previously-filed information we
should consider, and how it addresses the considerations outlined in this order.
25.
In determining whether to grant such applications, we will seek to advance the
immediate needs of public safety users in particular jurisdictions for innovative broadband services that
are not otherwise available so long as we can preserve the important long-term objectives of the Public
Safety Spectrum Act for the deployment of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network.
We also seek to identify those projects for which a limited additional investment will provide the ability
to capitalize on substantial completed efforts to date, thus avoiding stranded investment in the near term
and providing cognizable public safety benefits. We also attempt to maximize the likelihood that such
equipment may be used by FirstNet in support of its mission, by requiring that deployments meet the
minimum interoperability standards recommended by the Interoperability Board and transmitted by the
Commission to FirstNet. To ensure that these complementary policies are achieved, we set forth
guidance to STA applicants as to factors we would likely find to be supportive of a public interest finding
favorable to merit a grant of an STA.
·
Substantial Deployment Prior to Enactment of the Act. In “facilitat[ing] the transition” of the
public safety broadband spectrum to FirstNet, we recognize that some jurisdictions may have
substantially accomplished network deployment in this spectrum prior to the Public Safety
Spectrum Act’s enactment. The quarterly reports filed by the Waiver Recipients pursuant to the
requirements of the Waiver Order concerning planning, funding, and deployment, and the
additional comments filed in this proceeding, suggest that certain jurisdictions may have already
purchased and received delivery of equipment and are already substantially advanced with
respect to their deployments. As such, they are poised to bring their networks into service in the
near term with only a limited expenditure of additional resources.76 Such jurisdictions would be
capable of providing broadband services quickly, substantially prior to when FirstNet might
reach the point of planning and implementing its deployment in a particular area. We are not
persuaded that enabling the most advanced deployments to proceed into operation under such


76 See, e.g., Charlotte Comments at 5; Texas Comments at 10.
11

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

circumstances would pose a significant risk of undercutting the Public Safety Spectrum Act’s
long-term goals for the nationwide network, particularly given the public interest considerations
we outline in this Order. Accordingly, a pattern of sustained investment, both monetary and in
terms of planning and construction, including whether applicants have significantly deployed
their network prior to the Public Safety Spectrum Act’s enactment on February 22, 2012, will be
a consideration in determining whether an STA is warranted. As with our review of planning,
funding, and deployment progress of the Waiver Recipients, we will give careful consideration to
what substantive and sustained steps STA applicants have taken over time to accomplish their
deployments, such as any funding obtained, contracts entered into for network construction and
deployment, equipment purchased and delivered, sites identified and towers placed, engineering
analyses performed, infrastructure actually deployed in the field, and coordination carried out at
the statewide or regional level among prospective user groups.
·
Ability to Deliver Timely Service. We find it in the public interest to grant STA relief only to
the extent that jurisdictions are actually capable of delivering public safety broadband services
on an expedited basis, significantly in advance of FirstNet’s ability to consider deployment in a
particular area or to evaluate a request for such deployment. Thus, important additional factors
in our continuing review of planning, funding, and deployment will be whether funding is readily
available to support network deployment and operation of the scope contemplated in the
application (including whether any federal agency that administers the funds upon which an STA
applicant intends to rely supports the application), and whether deployment is reasonably likely
to commence for the benefit of public safety users well in advance of FirstNet’s offering service.
·
Specific Public Safety Need. We do not contemplate authorizing service based merely upon a
generalized desire to expand or enhance public safety communications capabilities. We believe
that it is appropriate to approve applications only to satisfy a specific compelling public safety
need for near-term service that cannot otherwise be substantially achieved. While the needs of
each jurisdiction may vary widely, we would expect that these needs would likely be reflected in
specific past problems with the adequacy of alternative public safety, private or commercial
service offerings, or clearly anticipated and quantifiable deficiencies in the same.
·
Compliance With “Minimum Technical Recommendations.” The Public Safety Spectrum Act
contemplates deployment of a “nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.”77
This policy has been reflected in the requirements in our Waiver Order for interoperability
showings, which all seek to ensure interoperability at this level. With respect to any STA
deployments, we remain committed to facilitating integration of these facilities to the greatest
extent possible in order to support FirstNet’s mission. As noted earlier, Section 4.1.4 of the
Recommended Minimum Technical Requirements also provides a path for integrating and
leveraging systems that are deployed prior to the installation of the FirstNet authority.78
Accordingly, while we cannot predict the architecture that FirstNet will adopt, adherence to the
“recommended minimum technical requirements” for nationwide interoperability developed by
the Interoperability Board and transmitted to FirstNet under Section 6203 of the Public Safety
Spectrum Act will be critical in determining whether a proposed STA will serve the public
interest.79 As these recommendations must be incorporated “without material change” into


77 Public Safety Spectrum Act § 6202(a).
78 Transmittal Order at Appx. A Section 4.1.4
79 See Transmittal Order.
12

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

FirstNet’s RFPs for network construction and operation,80 they provide the baseline of
interoperability against which any STA deployments are most appropriately measured.81 In
addition, to the extent these minimum requirements are modified by FirstNet, the public interest
would also compel us to consider as part of our analysis to what extent a proposed STA
applicant’s proprietary equipment may be incompatible with equipment deployed by FirstNet.
·
State-Level Coordination. In the Waiver Order, we expressed a preference for granting waiver
relief at the state level, reasoning that “[s]tates offer a reasonable delineation, both
geographically and politically, to ensure that deployments are undertaken with sufficient
authority, planning and coordination among all state and local public safety agencies within the
state.”82 We observe that the Public Safety Spectrum Act also designates an important role for
states in implementing the nationwide network.83 Accordingly, a significant consideration will
be whether we can conclude that a non-state STA applicant has the State’s concurrence for the
applicant’s plans for deployment within the state, as this is also one way to maximize the chances
that an STA deployment may ultimately be usable by FirstNet. Coordination with any official or
government body designated under Section 6302(d) of the Public Safety Spectrum Act to
administer state and local implementation grant funding within the state would be a factor in this
regard.84
26.
We recognize that, in extremely few cases, a circumstance may arise after the Act
became law which nonetheless creates an acute need for short term public safety broadband deployment.
A national security event, for example, may arise unexpectedly in an area where FirstNet is not yet
offering service. In such circumstances, jurisdictions unable to satisfy the “sustained investment and
deployment” consideration set forth above may still warrant grant of an STA based on an extraordinary
public safety need. We delegate authority to the Bureau to consider requests that rely on these
circumstances, provided that the Bureau consider whether an extraordinary need to enter service exists
that otherwise satisfies these considerations, and why such need could not have been anticipated. We do
not anticipate that requests would be routinely granted by the Bureau in these situations.
27.
Eligible Spectrum. Commenters have not offered a compelling rationale for extending
the scope of early deployments to permit operations in the D Block. Confining STA operations to the
public safety broadband spectrum (763-768/793-798 MHz) band will preserve the existing scope of any
planned deployments and avoid unnecessary encumbrance of the D Block spectrum prior to its being
licensed to FirstNet. Accordingly, we will consider granting these STAs to operate in the existing public
safety broadband spectrum only.
28.
Timing, Term and Renewal of STAs. We will begin accepting applications for STAs
immediately. Although we cannot guarantee action on any request by a date certain, we would expect
quick action on such requests, within 30 days of receiving a complete application. We delegate
authority to the Bureau to review any applications received and to grant applications that present a


80 See Public Safety Spectrum Act § 6206(b)(1)(B).
81 We recognize that the Interoperability Board has recommended LTE Release 9 as the baseline for FirstNet. Transmittal
Order
at Appx. A Section 3.3.1. To the extent an STA applicant has deployed equipment at Release 8 we would expect to
consider what plans they had to meet Release 9.
82 See Waiver Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5162 ¶ 50.
83 See Public Safety Spectrum Act §§ 6206(b)(1); 6206(c)(2); and 6302(d).
84 See id. § 6302(d).
13

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

compelling basis for relief as articulated in this Order within the 30-day timeframe, based on the specific
facts and circumstances identified in these applications.
29.
Consistent with FCC rules, we contemplate granting STA for up to 180-day periods.
Recipients would be eligible to apply for renewal. It is our expectation that we would renew any STAs
that continue to satisfy our renewal and public interest criteria. However, we would anticipate granting
considerable weight to FirstNet’s preferences, if any, regarding continued early deployment in its
licensed spectrum. To that end, we would advise STA renewal applicants that concurrence or objection
from FirstNet will be highly probative of whether our public interest criteria are met. Alternatively, STA
recipients seeking greater security may consider pursuing spectrum leases from FirstNet as a means of
extending their deployments, subject to FirstNet’s willingness to enter such agreements.
30.
Interim Approval for Charlotte and Texas. We observe that two Waiver Recipients,
Charlotte and Texas, have interoperability showings that have been pending before the Bureau for several
months.85 Each of these showings represents a deployment plan that substantially complies with the
interoperability requirements of the Waiver Order and Interoperability Waiver Order.86 These plans also
contemplate the provision of service prior to September 2,87 which may not be possible to accommodate
under STA given the timetable we have established above. Accordingly, we hereby approve the
interoperability showings of Charlotte and Texas, thereby authorizing them to provide service from the
release date of this Order until September 2, when their previously granted waiver authorizations
terminate.88 Charlotte and Texas may seek to extend their deployments beyond this date by applying for


85 See City of Charlotte, North Carolina Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (filed Jan. 27, 2012) (Charlotte Amended Showing); See
State of Texas Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (Jan. 13, 2012) (Texas Amended Showing). A third Waiver Recipient, Adams
County, CO, filed an interoperability showing on June 25, 2012, after previously withdrawing a showing. See Adams County,
CO Filing, PS Docket No. 06-229 (June 25, 2012).
86 Charlotte and Texas have each sought a limited waiver of requirements the Bureau imposed in its Interoperability Waiver
Order
. In particular, Texas seeks permission for a “variance of 10%” from the required seventy-percent sector loading, see
State of Texas Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (Feb. 21, 2012) (February 21 Waiver Request), while Charlotte seeks to implement an
alternative to the interference mitigation technique specified in the Bureau order. See City of Charlotte, North Carolina Filing,
PS Docket 06-229 at 3 (filed Mar. 14, 2012) (March 14 Waiver Request). In consultation with ERIC, we have determined that
neither of these proposed minor variances from the Bureau’s interoperability requirements as set forth for the Waiver
Recipients would undermine interoperability as contemplated under the Waiver Order. Accordingly, we grant both requests.
87 See Charlotte Amended Showing at 5; Texas Amended Showing at 54.
88 Harris Corporation has made a number of ex parte filings urging the Commission to decline to approve the Texas
interoperability showing, absent proof that the Texas system implements “a full and open competitive multi-vendor
environment.” See, e.g., Harris Corporation Ex Parte Filing, PS Docket 12-94 (filed June 18, 2012). Texas renewed its request
for approval of its interoperability showing in a July 6, 2012 filing in response to Harris, in which it states that it “has never
asserted or believed any of the [public safety] LTE technology would be proprietary or allowed to be deployed in a manner which
would compromise interoperability in any way.” See State of Texas Filing, PS Docket 12-94 (filed July 6, 2012). Motorola
Solutions asserts that allegations by Harris that Motorola is using technology that is proprietary and non-interoperable are
“wholly unfounded and totally baseless.” See Motorola Solutions Ex Parte Filing, PS Docket Nos. 12-94, 06-229, p. 1 (filed July
10, 2012). Motorola further asserts that the equipment it has deployed in Texas meets the letter and spirit of the
Recommendations of the Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability. Id at p.2. Our Waiver Order
interoperability requirements were designed to permit equipment from different jurisdictions to work together, even if procured
from different vendors. See, e.g., Waiver Order ¶¶ 37-40, 45. However, we have neither prohibited nor endorsed a particular
type of procurement, and we do not intend to involve ourselves in disputes over state government procurement requirements.
While as noted above our policies are designed to promote interoperability, in light of the responses from the State of Texas and
Motorola, we find that Harris Corp. has not presented persuasive evidence in support of this claim of non-interoperability, which
appears to be based on a hearsay account of a statement made by a competing vendor with regard to service in or around DFW
Airport. Regardless, our grant of interim approval for Texas’s limited deployment extends only to Harris County, and is without
prejudice to our action on any STA application by Texas. We further note that under that Act, FirstNet has the authority to
require additional protections for ensuring interoperability and is directed to take steps to “promote competition in the
(continued….)
14

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

an STA.

III.

ORDERING CLAUSES

31.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 301, 303, and 332 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 301, 303, and 332, and Section
6201(c) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156
(2012), THIS ORDER in PS Docket No. 12-94, WT Docket No. 06-150, and PS Docket No. 06-229 is
ADOPTED.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
(Continued from previous page)


equipment market.” See Public Safety Spectrum Act § 6206(b)(2)(B). For these reasons, we also decline to require the
additional testing that Harris requests in its July 17, 2012 ex parte.
15

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85


Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

APPENDIX

Pending Narrowband Deployment Waiver Petitions

Petitioner
Date Filed
Docket No.
City of Anchorage, Alaska
9/5/07
Informal Request1
Bannock County, Idaho
10/18/07
WT Docket No. 06-150
Bingham County, Idaho

10/18/07
WT Docket No. 06-150
Consolidate Communication Network of Colorado
10/22/07
PS Docket No. 06-229
State of Colorado
10/29/07
WT Docket No. 06-150
Las Vegas Metro Police Department
8/31/07, and subsequent
Informal request
amendments
State of Louisiana
8/30/07, and subsequent
WT Docket No. 06-150
amendments
City of Mesa, Arizona
9/10/07, and subsequent
Informal request
amendments
State of Nebraska
8/31/07
WT Docket No. 06-150
North Carolina Department of Crime Control and
10/22/07
PS Docket No. 06-229
Public Safety
City of Stamford, Connecticut
9/24/07
WT Docket No. 06-150
City of Virginia Beach2
10/19/07, and subsequent
PS Docket No. 06-229
amendments


1 Each of the informal requests listed here were submitted to Commission staff by email.
2 The City of Virginia Beach filed a certification on October 19, 2007, in which they certified certain equipment deployment
through December 31, 2007. Although it is not clear from the filing, we treat this as a request for waiver and deny it as we do
the others.
2

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

Pending Broadband Deployment Waiver Petitions

4
Petitioner
Date Filed
Las Vegas Met. Police, Washoe County Sheriff, Washoe Regional 5/13/10
Comms. System; Nevada Dept. of Transportation, and NV Energy on
behalf of the State of Nevada 700 MHz Broadband Wireless Network
Nassau County, NY
5/14/10
State of Maryland
5/21/10
County of Delaware, PA
5/26/10
South Central Task Force (Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, 5/28/10
Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York Counties, PA)
Louisiana Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee
6/16/10
City of Chicago, IL3
6/25/10
Georgia Broadband Alliance
6/25/10, amended 8/2/10
Lackawanna County Department of Emergency Services, PA
6/28/10
County of Fairfax, VA
6/29/10
County of Bucks, PA
7/7/10
City of Philadelphia, PA
7/8/10
State of Florida
8/3/10
Counties of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Thurston, the Cities of Seattle, 8/5/10
Tacoma, the Eastside Public Safety Communications Association, Valley
Communications and the State of Washington
Harris County, TX
8/11/10
New Orleans Urban Area Security Initiative Region 1
8/17/10
State of Oklahoma
8/18/10
City of Baton Rouge, LA
8/18/10
Chester County, PA
8/23/10
Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force
8/24/10
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
8/27/10
City of Tucson, AZ
8/27/10
Miami-Dade County, FL
9/21/10
Consolidated City of Indianapolis and County of Marion, IN
10/6/10
State of West Virginia
11/9/10
North Central Pennsylvania Regional Task Force
11/30/10
City of LaGrange, Troup County, Columbus Consolidate Government, 12/14/10
Muscogee County, Coweta County, Fayette County, Harris County and
Heard County, GA (West Georgia Consortium)


3 In dismissing the petition by the City of Chicago, we also dismiss its “Interoperability Showing” (filed July 15, 2010).
4 Waivers were filed in PS Docket No. 06-229.
3

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical 12/14/10
Area, Nashville Electric Service, city of Belle Meade, City of Berry Hill,
City of LaVergne, and Metro Nashville Airport Authority, TN
Tennessee Valley Region Communications System
3/18/11
State of Arkansas Department of Information Systems
4/5/11
City of Yuma, AZ
8/9/11
State of Michigan
9/16/11
County of Madison, KY Emergency Management Agency
1/3/12
City of Casper, WY
1/20/12
State of Tennessee
2/16/12
State of Georgia
3/21/12
State of Ohio
3/29/12
City of Pueblo, CO
4/12/12
4

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

STATEMENT OF

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

RE:
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, PS Docket No. 12-94; Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792
MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 06-150; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band. PS Docket No. 06-229

In the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Congress provided a vision and
direction for developing a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network. Today’s
action is another important step in the Commission’s ongoing implementation of the recent law.
This order provides a well-defined path for obtaining Special Temporary Authority (STA) where
it is warranted and consistent with the statute. The articulated criteria for evaluating STA
requests provide applicants with needed guidance and clarity. They also establish the
Commission’s clear expectations for the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, which
will use its authority judiciously and promptly and in accordance with this order.
Given the importance of these requests, if any applicant requests review of a Bureau decision, I
will work with my colleagues to ensure that the Commission completes its review within 30
days.
I thank the staff of the Public Safety Bureau for their hard work on this order and my colleagues
for their careful consideration.
5

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. MCDOWELL

CONCURRING

RE:
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, PS Docket No. 12-94; Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792
MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 06-150; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band. PS Docket No. 06-229

Ideally, the Commission would have addressed the existing public safety build-out waivers, as
well as the pending requests for waiver, on a case-by-case basis back in March, immediately following
passage of the Public Safety Spectrum Act. Acting quickly would have allowed the stakeholders a
meaningful opportunity to socialize the legislation and its effect – internally with their management
teams, their lenders, and their equipment vendors – and externally, with local government officials and
Commission staff. Instead, given the significant passage of time, the Commission has found itself in an
untenable position: It can only sweep away all of the waivers, along with the pending requests, and
establish a process to obtain a “limited” Special Temporary Authorization (STA) only “in very few
instances” where the highly subjective criteria set forth in the order are met.
Even though the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is not yet formed and, therefore,
has not yet held a meeting, developed any additional network details or published its highly-anticipated
build-out schedule, today’s action renders FirstNet perfectly poised to begin from scratch what everyone
agrees will be a time-consuming and formidable task. Yet, the Public Safety Spectrum Act requires no
such result. The legislation says nothing as to when the Commission must turn the broadband public
safety spectrum over to FirstNet, nor does it require the Commission to convey the spectrum all at once.
The Public Safety Spectrum Act only requires interoperability. In this regard, however, the
Commission’s experts have already acknowledged that networks deployed prior to FirstNet’s arrival can
be “leveraged into” the new nationwide network while still meeting interoperability requirements.
I thank the Chairman for taking my suggestion to allow STA applicants to incorporate by
reference previously-filed materials. There is no reason to further burden these entities especially now
that time is of the essence.
Looking ahead, Congress passed the law and of course we will work together to ensure its
implementation. On the other hand, I am disappointed with the one-size-fits-all approach set forth here.
Local jurisdictions know their terrain, their citizens and their outstanding needs best. Long ago, I had
expressed a desire for greater flexibility for waiver recipients and requesting parties. We should have
addressed these matters earlier and provided greater certainty rather than establish another procedural
hurdle at this late date. I fear that today’s action severely curtails, if not blocks outright, the ability of
local jurisdictions to keep their citizens safe in what will end up being many intervening years before
FirstNet reaches them.
For these reasons, I must respectfully concur.
6

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

RE:
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, PS Docket No. 12-94; Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792
MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 06-150; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band. PS Docket No. 06-229

This proceeding presented the Commission with the difficult task of: (1) complying with
Congress’s specific mandates in the public safety spectrum provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief
and Job Creation Act of 2012 that, among other things, direct the Commission to “take all actions
necessary to facilitate the transition” of the existing public safety broadband spectrum to the First
Responder Network Authority; and (2) determining which public safety jurisdictions, who were on the
verge of implementing statewide or regional network, should be permitted to continue building their
networks. Today’s Order successfully meets this challenge by identifying factors the Public Safety and
Homeland Security Bureau should consider, on delegated authority, when a local jurisdiction files a
request for Special Temporary Authority (STA). Those factors are: substantial deployment prior to
enactment of the Act; ability to deliver timely service; specific compelling public safety need for
immediate near-term service; and adherence to the “recommended minimum technical requirements” for
nationwide interoperability developed by the Interoperability Board; and State level government
coordination. In my opinion, properly applying these factors to STA requests should ensure that the
Bureau complies with both the language and spirit of this bi-partisan Act.
While I respect that some of my colleagues, as noted in their concurring statements, would have
preferred substantively different language in the factors applied to STA requests, I commend them for
offering other constructive edits that improve the Order. I also thank them for timely voting to approve
this Order early enough, so that the City of Charlotte and the State of Texas can receive the approvals of
their interoperability showings approved early enough to meet their deployment goals to offer service
prior to September 2, 2012. I congratulate David Turetsky and his talented staff for carefully analyzing
the record and for providing us with a thoughtful approach for resolving the issues in a manner that best
serves the public interest.
7

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL

RE:
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, PS Docket No. 12-94; Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792
MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 06-150; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band. PS Docket No. 06-229

Earlier this year, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act,
setting forth a framework for a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network for first
responders. This legislation created a First Responder Network Authority to build, deploy, and
operate the network with a “single, national network architecture,” but Congress gave this agency
only a limited role in that process. I support this Order because it is designed to harmonize the
early efforts some jurisdictions have made to improve interoperability with the more recent
direction from Congress.
I also would like to thank the staff of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau for
its hard work on this Order and ongoing work on other critically important communications
safety issues.
8

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI,

APPROVING IN PART AND CONCURRING IN PART

RE:
Implementing Public Safety Broadband Provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, PS Docket No. 12-94; Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792
MHz Bands, WT Docket No. 06-150; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band. PS Docket No. 06-229

Years ago, the 9/11 Commission identified as a national priority the need for
interoperable communications systems that could better enable first responders to keep the public
safe.5 I have doubts about how much closer today’s order moves us to achieving that goal.
Nevertheless, because my colleagues were willing to incorporate some important suggestions for
improving this item, I have voted to approve in part and concur in part.
Let us start with what is unquestionably good about this order: It approves the
interoperability showings of the State of Texas (Harris County) and the City of Charlotte, North
Carolina so that they can finish deploying their public safety networks. Allowing these projects
to move forward makes eminent sense—these lessees of public safety spectrum have almost
completed building out their networks, complying with existing interoperability standards. And
these standards are at least as stringent as the minimum interoperability standards we transmitted
to FirstNet just last month.6 In particular, signing off on the Texas showing will allow it to start
up its network immediately, right before the height of hurricane season. I therefore approve of
this part of the order.
I only concur in the remainder of the order, however, due to the decision to terminate
existing leases on September 2—just one month from now—in favor of the prospect of agency-
granted special temporary authority (STA) that could enable lessees to finish building out and
start operating their networks.
Federal law does not mandate this result. The Digital Television Transition and Public
Safety Act of 2005 dedicated one billion dollars to the deployment and use of interoperable
communications in the public safety spectrum.7 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
of 2009 created the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to “improve access
to, and use of, broadband service by public safety agencies,”8 among other things, and the
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) allocated $382 million to
public safety projects under that program.9 Meanwhile, the Commission itself has authorized 20
jurisdictions to start constructing interoperable communications networks in the public safety


5 The 9/11 Commission Report at 414 (2004).
6 Recommendations of the Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability, PS Docket No. 12-74,
Order of Transmittal, FCC 12-68 (rel. June 21, 2012) (Transmittal Order).
7 Pub. L. No. 109-171, § 3006, 120 Stat. 21, 24 (2006) (Title III of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005).
8 Pub. L. No. 111-5, § 6001(b)(4), 123 Stat. 115, 513 (2009).
9 See NTIA, Broadband Grants, available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/grants-combined.
9

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

spectrum, relying on BTOP funding, grants from the Department of Homeland Security, and state
and local revenues.
In my view, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the Act) builds
upon this foundation.10 It does not bar existing lessees from continuing to build out and launch
interoperable networks pending the completion of the request for proposal (RFP) process by
FirstNet.11 Rather, the Act instructs FirstNet to “utilize, to the maximum extent economically
desirable, existing—(A) commercial or other communications infrastructure and (B) Federal,
State, Tribal or local infrastructure.”12 This instruction suggests that Congress recognized that
the $7 billion newly allocated by the Act might not be sufficient to construct a green-field
network nationwide and that FirstNet would need to capitalize on infrastructure that had already
been deployed.
The general structure of the Act also affirmatively supports the continued deployment of
public safety networks as FirstNet is stood up. The Act established a Technical Advisory Board
for First Responder Interoperability at the Commission, charged it with developing
recommendations for “minimum technical requirements to ensure a nationwide level of
interoperability,” and required us to review and transmit those recommendations all before
FirstNet is created.13
The Act requires FirstNet to use these interoperability requirements
“without material chang[e].”14 And the Act requires FirstNet to “consult with regional, State,
tribal, and local jurisdictions”15 and specifically gives States the opportunity to opt out of
FirstNet’s planned network construction so long as they meet the minimum operability
requirements and demonstrate continued interoperability with other jurisdictions.16 It therefore
seems to me that the Act encourages, not ousts, state and local deployments of interoperable
public safety communications in order to enable FirstNet to accomplish its goal of nationwide,
interoperable communications more quickly at a lower cost.17


10 See Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012).
11 Id. § 6302(e) (requiring FirstNet to notify the governor of each State once it has completed the RFP process to
allow that State the opportunity to opt out and build its own interoperable network).
12 Id. § 6206(c)(3).
13 Id. § 6203.
14 Id. § 6206(b)(1)(B).
15 Id. § 6206(c)(2).
16 See id. § 6302(e).
17 NTIA asserts that the requirement that the network “be based on a single, national network architecture,” Act
§ 6202(b), means the Commission must “grant the public safety broadband spectrum license [to FirstNet] with no
encumbrances.” NTIA Comments at 4. In other words, NTIA’s view is that existing lessees must be terminated as
a matter of law. I do not support this interpretation of the Act. For one thing, a single national network
architecture is an obvious aspect of interoperability; if a public safety official in Texas is going to respond to a
disaster in Louisiana, his device must transmit on the same frequencies, interface using the same protocols, and
coordinate with a common data center to verify that the device is authorized to use the network. No one doubts
that the Internet has a single architecture—packet-based transmissions, Internet Protocol addressing, Domain Name
(continued….)
10

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

We have already recognized as much. Last month, we approved the Recommended
Minimum Technical Requirements to Ensure Nationwide Operability.18 Section 4.1.4 of those
recommendations specifically lays out how to incorporate public safety networks constructed
under the existing waiver-and-leasing process into FirstNet’s project.19
I do not read today’s order as disagreeing with this assessment of the law. Indeed, the
Commission specifically recognizes that the Act “does not preclude the Commission from
exercising its authority to [allow public safety officials to deploy in advance of FirstNet’s RFP
process] so long as they are consistent with the Commission’s duty to facilitate the transition of
the [public safety] spectrum to FirstNet” and that the interoperability recommendations
“provide[] a path for integrating and leveraging systems that are deployed prior to the installation
of the FirstNet authority.”20
Consequently, in the ideal world I would have preferred to allow states and localities to
proceed with deploying interoperable public safety systems through the use of waivers. This
approach would have provided public safety officials with more certainty, would have made it
less likely that prior infrastructure investments would be stranded, and would have been more
likely to yield important short-term public safety benefits.
But we must deal with the world as it is rather than how we wish it were. Given my
colleagues’ support for an STA framework, I thought that it was important to work with them to
improve the item instead of sitting on the sidelines and dissenting. Although not all of my
suggestions were incorporated into today’s item, some key changes were made that have led to
my decision to concur.
For example, in deciding whether to grant an STA, the Commission now need not ignore
investments and deployments that postdate the enactment of the Act on February 22, 2012. It
would have been arbitrary to limit the Commission’s evaluation of an STA application to look
only at the progress made by states and localities prior to February 22. Infrastructure deployed
after February 22 is just as capable of saving lives as infrastructure deployed before that date, and
it goes without saying that public safety, rather than temporal bright-line rules, must be our
paramount goal. Moreover, given the Commission’s finding that the Act does not preclude the
continued deployment of public safety networks, there is no reason why states and localities
should have concluded that they should have stopped making investments after the law’s
(Continued from previous page)


System look-ups—and yet the Internet is the ultimate network of networks. For another, this reading of the Act
necessitates the termination of all existing leases and the indefinite suspension of all networks built to use the
public safety spectrum even if they are fully interoperable. I do not believe that Congress intended such a result, or
that it would have used such indirect language if in fact it did. I therefore appreciate that the Commission does not
accede to NTIA’s approach to the statute.
18 See Transmittal Order Appx. A.
19 See id. Appx. A, Section 4.1.4.
20 Order at para. 16.
11

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-85

enactment.
Additionally, I am pleased that today’s order establishes the expectation that the Public
Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will rule on STA applications within 30 days. Given the
importance of the public safety networks at issue in this proceeding, it is critical that STA
applications be processed promptly rather than being allowed to languish.
There are further aspects of the order I would like to change. For instance, I would prefer
that the criteria for evaluating STA applications be less restrictive. And I would prefer that the
STA applications be voted on by those directly accountable to Congress instead of being decided
by the Bureau.
At the end of the day, however, I recognize that this is the beginning of a process, not the
end of one. As we move forward, I hope that the Bureau will give serious consideration to the
STA applications that are about to come our way, particularly those filed by jurisdictions facing a
significant risk of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes. We should not
artificially limit ourselves to approving only a “very few” applications. Rather, each should be
evaluated on its own merits with one simple question in mind: Can the early deployment of this
network improve public safety without undercutting FirstNet?21 In my view, our statutory
responsibilities regarding public safety—whether longstanding (such as Section 1 of the
Communications Act) or of recent vintage (such as the Act)—counsel that we enable to the
fullest extent the deployment of interoperable communications networks that have the potential
to save lives.


21 Indeed, far from undercutting FirstNet, early adopters of interoperable communications may be opportunities
rather than liabilities. Congress allocated limited funds for the creation of nationwide public safety
communications. Thus, if Houston or Charlotte or any other jurisdiction builds an interoperable network without
drawing on FirstNet’s funds, that just leaves more money that FirstNet can apply to build out its network,
especially in rural America. In other words, early deployment should make FirstNet’s job easier, not harder.
12

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.

close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.