In 1990, Congress ordered the FCC to designate 700 MHz spectrum for public safety. However, for 20 years nothing really happened. Then, in 2012, 21 cities, counties, and states got tired of waiting. They formed the Operator Advisory Committee (OAC) and formally applied to the FCC to use the designated bandwidth. That request was granted in May 2012, at which time members of the OAC began building their public safety networks.
“The vision” said former Seattle CTO Bill Schrier, “had always been to create a nationwide network … for public safety, so that police officers, firefighters and EMTs — on their smartphones and tablets, would have a dedicated network for communications and data.”
The national public safety network is backed by a $7 billion congressional appropriation. However, this figure is just a small part of what it will take to fully build a nationwide network. This is why Congress created the First Responders’ Network Authority, FirstNet, to help make a national public safety network a reality.
“But that will take years to get that done, so there’s full interoperability nationwide,” said Schrier.
In August 2012, the FCC gave Harris County, Texas permission to go live with its first eight of 14 sites. This was a major step in the right direction for the formation of a nationwide broadband wireless network for public safety. Unfortunately, other OAC members may have experienced a setback in late July.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the federal agency in which FirstNet resides urged the commission “to dismiss any pending 700 MHz public safety waiver applications and to terminate existing leases in the public safety broadband spectrum.” It is the Administration’s belief that any further deployments would “jeopardizes nationwide interoperability and ultimately could increase the cost of the nationwide network.” Harris County was only allowed to begin operating because their network was nearly complete before the NTIA recommendation was presented.
Harris County must seek a Special Temporary Authority (STA), however, to continue operation beyond September 2nd. And the remaining OAC members must also apply for an STA before the September 2nd deadline.
For any further questions on the National Public Safety Network simply contact ARK Systems at 1-800-995-0189 or click here today.
When you consider how crucial security can be, and when you think of all the options that you’re faced with today, one thing becomes clear. You need a contractor with experience. For assessment, design, installation, testing and service, ARK is the expert across the board.