First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress [February 27, 2015] [open pdf - 317KB]
"Congress included provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) for planning, building, and managing a new, nationwide, broadband network for public safety communications, by creating the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). […] In addition, the act has designated federal appropriations of over $7 billion for the network and other public safety needs. These funds are provided through new revenue from the auction of spectrum licenses to the commercial sector. The establishment of FirstNet is an important step toward reaching what has been a widely shared national goal since September 11, 2001: the provision of interoperable communications for first responders. The immediate goal for FirstNet, however, is to provide a broadband network to carry data, although it will provide an option for voice communications as well. Mission critical voice communications will, in many states, be available over Land Mobile Radio (LMR) networks operating on narrowband frequencies previously assigned by the FCC [Federal Communications Commission]. States participating in FirstNet may need to continue to invest in and maintain their narrowband networks and will likely at the same time be required to fund some part of the build out of state Radio Area Networks proposed by FirstNet, as required in the act. The cost of construction of a nationwide network is estimated by experts to be in the tens of billions of dollars over the long term, with similarly large sums needed for maintenance and operation."
CRS Report for Congress, R42543
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html