First Responder Network (FirstNet) and Next-Generation Communications for Public Safety: Issues for Congress [June 17, 2016] [open pdf - 989KB]
"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). The act allocated 10 MHz of additional radio frequency spectrum to accommodate the new network and required that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assign a license to FirstNet, comprising the newly designated frequencies plus 10 MHz previously assigned to states by the FCC for public safety use. In addition, the act 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 licenses to the commercial sector in other spectrum bands. The establishment of FirstNet is an important step toward reaching what has been a national goal since September 11, 2001: the provision of interoperable communications for first responders. The immediate goal for FirstNet is to provide a broadband network nationwide to carry data, although it will provide an option for voice communications as well. The cost of constructing and maintaining a nationwide network is estimated by many experts to be in the tens of billions of dollars over the long term. The law anticipates that most of these costs will be covered by partnerships between FirstNet and the private sector in return for commercial access to FirstNet's spectrum."
CRS Report for Congress, R42543
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html