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Public Safety Broadband Moves Forward In New Mexico, L.A. County

August 15, 2013  | 

Logo via FirstNet.
Logo via FirstNet.
The federal panel governing development of the nation's public safety broadband network has approved lease agreements for the first networks in New Mexico and Los Angeles County.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board approved an agreement with New Mexico on Tuesday, the panel announced. The agreement comes on the heels of a similar agreement in June with the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications Authority (LA-RICS).

The agreements allow working groups in those jurisdictions to begin receiving federal grant funds for the development of the next-gen broadband networks. The projects were among seven to receive federal grants under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) that were suspended after the passage of a 2012 federal law establishing FirstNet.

President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act in February 2012 that set up FirstNet within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The law directs FirstNet, a 15-member panel that includes an NYPD deputy chief and Iowa sheriff, to develop and operate a nationwide public safety broadband network based on a single, nationwide network architecture.

The LA-RICS working group must submit a plan to NTIA by Oct. 1 detailing operation of its network and how to prioritize access to the network depending on the nature of the incident.

In New Mexico, network planners must still spell out how they plan to use a remotely located network core, network use issues along the U.S.-Mexico border, and shared use of a state network with federal users.

Both networks would access the 700 MHz Band 14 once used by analog television stations.

Three other entities awarded BTOP grants before the establishment of FirstNet suffered setbacks Tuesday when the panel announced it was cutting off negotiations with Adams County, Colo.; Charlotte, N.C.; and the New Jersey Department of the Treasury.

The FirstNet board also voted Tuesday to extend negotiations to Sept. 30 with the Mississippi and Motorola Solutions on behalf of the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications Systems Authority (BayRICS).

"These projects have made substantial progress in reaching agreements with FirstNet, and FirstNet remains hopeful that agreements can be finalized with those projects by the deadline," according to a FirstNet press release.

Discussions with the state of Texas for a spectrum lease agreement began in April.

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