FirstNet Announces $40M Grant Program for 700 MHz Band 14 Incumbents
Thursday, March 17, 2016 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is making up to $40 million available under the Band 14 Incumbent Spectrum Relocation Grant Program. The grants are available to the 15 public-safety spectrum licensees operating in 700 MHz band 14 spectrum and will provide financial assistance to relocate their existing radios and systems from band 14 in advance of deployment of the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

Applications are due May 16.

A number of public-safety entities around the nation are still operating on the FirstNet-licensed Band 14 frequencies under previously issued FCC authorizations. The incumbents are required to relocate their communications operations from band 14 to other frequencies allocated by the FCC to ensure unencumbered spectrum for the NPSBN.

“In addition to clearing the band 14 spectrum for NPSBN deployment, this grant program will enable public-safety incumbents to continue to operate their communications systems seamlessly,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet will continue to work with the incumbents to help ensure the transition is as predictable as possible.”

Procurement of new communications equipment — radios, vehicle repeaters, fixed site repeaters and antenna combiners — by incumbents will be considered for funding only if the application clearly demonstrates that the retuning or reprogramming of existing equipment is not cost effective or cannot be achieved because of equipment obsolescence. Any determination that an incumbent’s procurement of new communications equipment is appropriate may impact the grant amount that an applicant is eligible to receive under this program, the grant announcement said.

The period of performance for the relocation grant program may not exceed one year, and the anticipated period of performance is Aug. 1 to July 31, 2017. A no-cost extension may be considered based on need.

Throughout the grant period of performance, FirstNet will require recipients to show that they are on track to accomplish the specific allowable and approved activities. These activities will include, but are not limited to, establishing a project plan for relocation off of the band 14 spectrum and onto other FCC-allocated frequency bands; key milestones within the period of performance to show progress toward the program goal; and other requirements specific to the grantee’s communications needs.

In November, the FCC released a notice seeking comment on an ex parte proposal made by FirstNet to facilitate the relocation of incumbent public-safety communications systems operating in the 758 – 769 and 788 – 799 MHz band 14 spectrum. The FirstNet Finance Committee approved the program last year.

The announcement of federal funding for the program is here.

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