FirstNet Readies Plan, Grant Program to Relocate 700 MHz Band 14 Incumbents
Friday, August 07, 2015 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is putting plans and funding in place to relocate incumbent public-safety agencies from the 700 MHz band 14 spectrum. FirstNet officials identified about 13 jurisdictions operating in the spectrum and are still evaluating the specific number of incumbents.

FirstNet’s Finance Committee approved a resolution to authorize management to establish a spectrum relocation grant program and bring forward grant allocations for review to the Finance Committee.

“The grant program amount is under evaluation as we move to develop a more detailed independent government cost estimate and review proposed allocations with the Finance Committee for approval,” said a FirstNet spokesman.

During the Aug. 6 Finance Committee meeting, Acting Executive Director TJ Kennedy said FirstNet will ensure that the public-safety entities currently operating in band 14 spectrum will have a seamless transition from the band to other 700 MHz spectrum.

“FirstNet will employ a grant program to clear the remaining incumbents from band 14 this fiscal year and complete it in the next fiscal year, and some will be completed this year,” Kennedy said. “We will offer a varied relocation approach to the 13 or so jurisdictions in the spectrum.”

Several jurisdictions operate narrowband systems in FirstNet’s 700 MHz frequencies predating the FCC’s 2007 second report and order that adopted a plan for the 700 MHz band to establish a nationwide, interoperable public-safety broadband communications network for public-safety users. The 2007 order designated the lower half of the 700 MHz public-safety band for broadband communications (763 – 768/793 – 798 MHz) and consolidated existing narrowband allocations in the upper half of the public-safety 700 MHz band (769 – 775/799 – 805 MHz).

The FirstNet board received a briefing on the relocation efforts back in March. At the time, Patrick Sullivan, a FirstNet legal adviser, told the board FirstNet was reaching out to affected organizations to learn about their needs and technical information.

In 2012, the U.S Congress enacted the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Recovery Act of 2012, which directed the FCC to allocate a license for both the existing public-safety broadband spectrum and the 700 MHz D block (758 – 763 MHz/788 – 793 MHz) to FirstNet for use in a nationwide broadband network.

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