PSHSB Seeks Comment on Broadband Waiver Transition Process
Federal Communications Commission
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Released: April 6, 2012
PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU SEEKS COMMENT ON
TRANSITION PROCESS FOR 700 MHZ PUBLIC SAFETY BROADBAND WAIVER
PS Docket No. 12-94
Comment Date: April 20, 2012On February 22, 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act or Act)1
became law.2 The Spectrum Act directs the Commission to reallocate the 700 MHz “D Block” (758-763
MHz/788-793 MHz) for public safety services and to assign a license for both the D Block and the
existing public safety broadband spectrum (763-769 MHz/793-799 MHz) to the First Responder Network
Authority (FirstNet).3 FirstNet is an independent authority to be formed within the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce to oversee
the establishment of a nationwide public safety broadband network.4 The Commission is required to
“take all actions necessary to facilitate the transition” of the existing public safety broadband spectrum to
FirstNet.5 Upon its establishment, FirstNet is responsible for taking “all actions necessary to ensure the
building, deployment and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network.”6 Among the
transition issues that must be addressed in order to ensure that FirstNet can fulfill its mission is the
disposition of the incumbent operators in both the public safety broadband spectrum and the D Block.
The spectrum to be assigned to FirstNet under the Spectrum Act is occupied by four classes of
incumbents: (1) jurisdictions operating narrowband systems that predate the Commission’s 2007 Second
1 See Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012)(Spectrum Act).
2 Id. § 6201(a).
3 See Spectrum Act § 6201(a).
4 Id. §§ 6101(a); 6201(a); 6204; 6206(b)(1).
5 Id. § 6201(c).
6 Id. § 6206(b)(1). The Spectrum Act also prescribes a process by which a state may opt out of participation in the nationwide
network. See id. § 6302(e).
Report and Order,7 some of which received waivers for continued deployment;8 (2) jurisdictions at the
planning or deployment stage, which have been granted waivers to operate broadband systems
(Broadband Waiver Recipients);9 (3) two jurisdictions operating wideband systems pursuant to waiver or
Special Temporary Authority (STA);10 and (4) one commercial incumbent in the D Block spectrum,
PTPMS II, licensed in the 761-763/791-793 band in the Des Moines-Quad Cities and El Paso-
Albuquerque Major Economic Areas (MEAs).11
The transition issues related to the Broadband Waiver Recipients are the most time-sensitive. Among
other things, that is because of the near-term deployments planned by some of these jurisdictions and the
plans to award contracts by others. Accordingly, this Public Notice focuses on the issues relating to the
Broadband Waiver recipients. The Commission will separately evaluate the appropriate actions to take as
to the other classes of incumbents.
BackgroundThe D Block and the existing public safety broadband spectrum are part of the Upper 700 MHz Band
(746-806 MHz). In the Second Report and Order, the Commission sought to create a public-private
partnership for the development of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network in the 700
MHz band between a nationwide public safety licensee and the nationwide winner of the adjacent block
of commercial spectrum called the D Block. Soon after the release of the Second Report and Order, the
Commission selected the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) to serve as nationwide public safety
licensee.12 However, an auction of the D Block in early 2008 failed to produce a winning bid, and the
Commission began to reexamine the basic approach it had established for creating an interoperable
broadband public safety network.13 At the time the Spectrum Act was enacted, this reexamination was
still in process, and, consequently, the Commission had conducted no further auctions for the D Block.
7 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, 15291 ¶ 1 (2007) (Second Report and Order).
8 See, e.g.,Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band, Development of
Operational, Technical and Spectrum Requirements for Meeting Federal, State and Local Public Safety Communications
Requirements through the Year 2010, Commonwealth of Virginia Request for Waiver, Order, 22 FCC Rcd 20290 at¶ 7 (2007);
Request for Waiver of Pierce Transit, Order, 23 RCC Rcd 443 (PSHSB 2008); State of New York Request for Waiver, Order, 23
FCC Rcd 9610 (PSHSB 2008); State of Arkansas Request for Waiver, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 11068 (PSHSB 2008); State of
Illinois, Illinois State Police Request for Waiver, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 11064 (PSHSB 2008); State of Hawaii Request for Waiver,
Order, 23 FCC Rcd 11264 (PSHSB 2008); State of Mississippi Request for Waiver, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 11620(PSHSB 2008);
City of Phoenix, Arizona Request for Waiver, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 16669 (PSBSB 2008); County of Ada, Idaho Request for
Waiver, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 16665(PSHSB 2008); Harris County, Texas Request for Waiver, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 16661
9 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); 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).
10 See, Call Sign WQIW915, City of Wasilla Police Department, Wasilla, AK (STA); Call Sign WQIR243, City of Post Falls, ID
11 See Second Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 15338-40 ¶¶ 128-134.
12 See Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band, PS Docket 06-229,
Order, 22 FCC Rcd 20453 (2007).
13 See, e.g., See 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, Third Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 08-230 (2008) (Third Further Notice).
Beginning in late 2008, a number of public safety jurisdictions filed petitions seeking waiver of the
Commission’s rules in order to allow early deployment of local or regional public safety broadband
networks in the public safety broadband spectrum.14 On May 11, 2010, the Commission granted the
requests of twenty-one public safety entities, with a number of conditions, including the requirement that
the Waiver Recipients enter into a lease with the PSST for access to public safety broadband spectrum.15
More generally, the Commission made it clear that the Waiver Recipients would ultimately be required to
integrate their network operations into whatever nationwide operations the Commission ultimately
established for the band.16 On May 12, 2011, the Commission granted an additional conditional waiver to
the State of Texas.17 These waiver deployments are conditioned on use of the 3GPP Long Term
Evolution (LTE) technology platform and on adherence to other requirements, including baseline
technical interoperability mandates established by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau in
December 2010.18 The Waiver Recipients are at various stages of deployment.19
To date, three jurisdictions have filed the interoperability showings that, under the Waiver Order, the
Commission must approve in order for these jurisdictions’ networks to go into service: the State of Texas
(Texas), Charlotte, North Carolina (Charlotte), and the Adams County, Colorado, Communication Center
(Adams County).20 Texas and Charlotte contemplate entering into service in 2012, with proposed service
availability dates of May 31 and June 30 respectively.21
Transition IssuesWe seek comment on the most expedient and cost-effective way to transition the Waiver Recipients’
authorizations. What actions should the Commission take to effectuate the transition? Should the
Commission issue a stay to halt deployment by the Waiver Recipients in order to avoid additional costs
being incurred by the Waiver Recipients. What impact would such action have on Waiver Recipients’
funding, including obligations such as those under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
It appears that jurisdictions such as Charlotte and Texas that plan to go into service in the coming months
14 See, e.g., Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on Petitions for Waiver to Deploy 700 MHz Public
Safety Broadband Networks, 24 FCC Rcd 10814 (PSHSB 2009) (Waiver PN) Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to
Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz Interoperable Public Safety Wireless Broadband Networks, PS Docket No. 06-229, 25
FCC Rcd 17156, n.14 (PSHSB 2010)(Interoperability Waiver Order).
15 See Waiver Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 5152 ¶ 20. The state of Alabama did not sign a lease with the PSST.
16 See id. at 5153 ¶ 22.
17 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).
18 See Interoperability Waiver Order.
19See, e.g., Letter from Steve Koman, LTE Broadband Program Office, City of Charlotte, to James Arden Barnett, Jr., Chief,
PSHSB, PS Docket No. 06-229 (filed Jan. 13, 2012) (Charlotte Quarterly Report); Quarterly Report #7 of the State of Texas
Public Safety LTE Broadband Network, PS Docket No. 06-229 (filed Jan. 13, 2012); Quarterly Report of the Los Angeles
Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority, PS Docket No. 06-229 (filed Jan. 10, 2012); Oregon Department of
Transportation Major Projects Branch Broadband Waiver Recipient Oregon Quarterly Report #7, PS Docket No. 06-229 (filed
Jan. 9, 2012).
20 See City of Charlotte, North Carolina Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (filed Jan. 27, 2012) (Charlotte Showing); See State of Texas
Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (June 17, 2011) (Texas Showing); Adams County, Colorado, Communication Center Filing, PS Docket
06-229 (Dec. 20, 2011) (Adams County Showing). Adams County withdrew its interoperability showing on April 3, 2012. See
Adams County, Colorado, Communication Center Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (Apr. 4, 2012); Adams County, Colorado,
Communication Center Filing, PS Docket 06-229 (Apr. 3, 2012).
21 See Texas Showing at 54; Charlotte Showing at 5.
may be differently situated then other Waiver Recipients because their deployments will bring public
safety benefits in the very near term. Should these parties be treated differently because they plan to enter
into service shortly, or because they have already expended substantial funds? Alternatively, should the
Commission decline to act on the interoperability showings for Charlotte, Texas or Adams County,
because of the impending transition? What would be the impact to FirstNet if the Commission did
authorize these waiver recipients to enter into service? Are there network architectures that the Waiver
Recipients who wish to initiate service could utilize that would impact the costs of the transition to
FirstNet? What are the costs or other impacts, including lost near term public safety benefits, if the
Commission fails to authorize these waiver recipients to enter into service? Commenters should address
how their proposals are consistent with the Spectrum Act.
Would one possible approach would be to rescind all the waiver authorizations. What would the impact –
including cost – be to the Waiver Recipients of such an approach? Could the cost impact be minimized in
any way? For instance, could we rescind the waiver authorizations of only those jurisdictions who have
not yet expended significant funds? Is there another method to achieve the same objectives, while
minimizing any adverse impacts? Is this approach consistent with the Spectrum Act?
We also recognize that the initial term of the May 2010 Waiver Recipients’ leases will end in September
2012, shortly after the August 20, 2012 deadline for establishing the FirstNet board.22 Is there an
appropriate way to transition their authorizations coincident with the end of the lease term, or coincident
with the issuance of a license to FirstNet? Is such an approach consistent with the Spectrum Act?
Should the Commission simply allow these leases to expire or decline to renew them? Should the
Commission allow renewal at the option of FirstNet? Should the Commission allow all or some of the
leases to be renewed with the PSST, and then transferred to FirstNet at an appropriate time? Should such
lease renewal terms be for a more limited duration than the initial two-year lease? What term? What
would be the cost impact of each of these approaches? Could these approaches be structured in a manner
that would be consistent with the Spectrum Act?
Should the Commission authorize operations on a special temporary authority (STA) basis during an
interim period following the expiration of these leases, until such time as FirstNet can determine whether
to enter into a new lease, or until such time as the relevant state determines whether or not it will opt out
of the nationwide license? How long could such an arrangement persist? Is this type of arrangement
viable for all the Waiver Recipients, or should it be limited to those with imminent deployment plans, or
another extenuating circumstance? What factors would the Commission use to make such a
Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s rules, 47 CFR §§ 1.415, 1.419, interested
parties may file comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments
may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing
of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
22 See id. § 6204(e). We note that the term of the lease held by Texas ends June 17, 2013, a date preceded by the statutory
deadline for establishing the FirstNet board.
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For further information about this Public Notice, please contact Jennifer A. Manner, Deputy Chief, Public
Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-3619 or Jennifer.Manner@fcc.gov.
23 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.1200 et seq.
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