FirstNet to Look at Public Safety Entity Definition in Further Notice

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans to issue another public notice further exploring issues related the definition of public safety entity, a FirstNet official said today at the National Emergency Number Association’s 911 Goes to Washington event.  The definition of public safety entity was an issue that drew many comments in a public notice issued by FirstNet last September (TRDaily, Sept. 17, 2014). The public notice sought comment on preliminary interpretations and other issues regarding FirstNet’s authority under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.

Vicki Lee, FirstNet’s association manager, said at today’s event that FirstNet plans to issue a public notice that will solely further explore issues and interpretations related to the definition of public safety entity. She said she did not know when the public notice would be released.

Regarding a potential stand-alone public notice on the definition of public safety entity, FirstNet spokesman Ryan Oremland told TRDaily later today that it was a “key issue that is under consideration for future public notices.  But there are many factors that will shape the final ‘when’ and ‘what’, including FirstNet Board input and approval.”  He also noted that the definition of public safety entity generated the most comments of any issue in response to the first public notice, with 80% of entities mentioning it.

In her remarks, Ms. Lee also noted that FirstNet plans to release next month a draft comprehensive network request for proposals (RFPs). She also noted that initial consultations on state plans with 14 states have been completed and 26 are scheduled to be held through September.  On other issues, Ms. Lee also said FirstNet plans to launch “preliminary data collection” “fairly soon,” including data such as the number of devices in use, which services are being used, and any procurement issues that jurisdictions face. She said FirstNet plans to gather only data that is necessary and when it is needed, saying, “We don’t want to burden the states and territories for this.”

Ms. Lee urged 911 call center representatives to become active in their states on FirstNet issues, including by contacting their state points of contact.  On staffing, she said FirstNet is in the interview and hiring process for team leads in six of its 10 regions. She said it hopes to hire all team leads by the end of the fiscal year.

Ms. Lee also noted ongoing work of FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). The early builder working group has submitted recommendations and has next been tasked to look at issues related to lessons learned, while the tribal working group met face to face for the first time yesterday. Also, one PSAC task team is looking at priority and preemption matters, while another is exploring public safety grade issues.

Ms. Lee also said high bidding in the FCC’s AWS (advanced wireless services)-3 sale, which generated $44.9 billion in gross revenues, validates the value of spectrum. “We do have a sustainable model for the leasing of that excess capacity,” she said.

Several attendees questioned whether public safety answering points (PSAPs) might be able to obtain funding from FirstNet or whether 911 surcharges could be used to deploy the public safety broadband network.

Ms. Lee and Trey Forgety, director-government affairs and chief regulatory counsel for NENA, said that if a governor opt outs of having FirstNet construct the radio access network in his or her state, leaving it up to the state to build it, it would be up to the state to decide whether to use 911 surcharge fees for that purpose.- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily