WASHINGTON, September 6, 2013 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department on Friday announced that it had awarded planning grants for seven states and two territories to help prepare for the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet.
The awards, to Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington, plus Guam and Puerto Rico, brings the total number of planning grants that have been awarded to 35 states and 4 territories.
The complete list of states and territories that have received awards, along with links to the state or territorial entity responsible for the award, is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/sligp/sligp-awards.
FirstNet is an initiative designed to create, a nationwide interoperable public-safety wireless network. Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the FirstNet entity was created to shepherd this new public-private network into existence.
One aspect of creating the network are the State and Local Grant Implementation Program, or the awards currently being announced by the NTIA.
“The input of states, tribes, and local governments will be critical as FirstNet develops its plans for this historic network,” said Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Information and Communications and NTIA Administrator. “NTIA’s State and Local Implementation Grant Program will give states the resources they need to consult with FirstNet on deployment of a nationwide public safety broadband network.”
The the majority of the planning grants awarded, NTIA has begun to release basic programmatic information for new awardees, including these slides from a webinar on August 12, 2013.
A second core aspect of the network are 10 separate Requests for Information released by the FirstNet board in July. These RFIs were due on August 30.
Although barely one year old, the FirstNet process has already attracted its share of controversy. At the April 23, 2013, meeting of the Firstnet, board member Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said he believed that the FirstNet process had unduly excluded input from the public safety community.
FirstNet establed a “spcial review committee” to consider the criticism, and this body will hold a meeting this coming Thursday, September 12, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET. See http://www.ntia.doc.gov/federal-register-notice/2013/notice-public-meeting-firstnet-special-review-committee-09122013 for further details.