Adams County, New Jersey Move Forward With FirstNet Spectrum Agreements (12/16/13)
Monday, December 16, 2013 | Comments

By Sandra Wendelken
Two more spectrum lease agreements between the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program (BTOP) awardees were approved Dec. 17. Four of the seven public-safety BTOP winners now have agreements with FirstNet.

Adams County, Colo., and the New Jersey Department of Treasury now have lease agreements for 700 MHz broadband spectrum for public-safety networks. The FirstNet board of directors will recommend that the National Telecommunications Industry Administration (NTIA) lift the suspension of grant money so the jurisdictions can move forward with private Long Term Evolution (LTE) public-safety networks.

The board also voted to extend negotiations with Harris County, Texas, until Feb. 24. Harris County has an operational LTE public-safety network funded through federal grants but it was not a BTOP awardee.

Adams County and New Jersey join Los Angeles-Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) and the state of New Mexico in reaching spectrum lease agreements with FirstNet. Three jurisdictions that won BTOP funding — the state of Mississippi, Motorola Solutions for the Bay Area in California, and Charlotte, N.C. — do not have agreements, and no further negotiations are underway with those three entities, said TJ Kennedy, FirstNet deputy general manager.

Bill D’Agostino said the Adams County network will work closely with the Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) 700 MHz LTE public-safety demonstration network. PSCR is based in Boulder, Colo., near Adams County. The network will include 18 – 20 sites used by 2,000 first responders in the 1,200 square miles of the county using a variety of devices.

“It will be an opportunity to use a real-life, real-time network to test additional features and functionality,” D’Agostino said.

“FirstNet has an opportunity to have some early successes in the state of Colorado,” said Eric Tate, fire chief for the city and county of Denver. “We have a dense metropolitan area and significant rural populations. We think that will set the stage for rolling it out across the rest of the country.”

Tate was a special guest during the board meeting, which was held in Denver.

The New Jersey network will test deployables, including cells on wheels (COWs) and systems on wheels, to establish service and to recover service after a disaster. The proof-of-concept system will cover the Route 21 corridor, the southern part of the state near Camden and the Atlantic City area.

Separately during the meeting, D’Agostino said FirstNet’s financial performance for fiscal year (FY) 2013 ended well below its plan for outlays and obligations. “The trend in FY14 is the same,” he said.

The board also approved charters for the four previously formed committees: Governance and Personnel, Finance, User Outreach, and Planning and Technology. Finally, the board approved leases for buildings in Reston, Va., for its headquarters and Boulder, Colo., for technical work. The exact locations weren’t released. The board also approved a contractor task order.

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