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NTIA Provides Guidance to States Seeking Authority to Enter Into a Spectrum Lease with FirstNet, Receive Grant Funds

July 19, 2016
News Media Contact
Juliana Gruenwald

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today issued a Public Notice outlining the alternative path states could take to connect to the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) nationwide public safety broadband network.  The notice provides preliminary guidance on the rigorous process NTIA is developing to review applications for its State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) from states seeking to deploy their own radio access networks (RAN), which are the facilities needed to connect first responders to the core of FirstNet’s broadband network.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act) established FirstNet as an independent authority within NTIA and directed it to develop and deploy a nationwide public safety broadband network. The Act requires FirstNet to offer to build the RAN in each state, but it also gives states the option to assume the cost and responsibility of RANs on their own.

“The FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network must be sustainable and provide seamless broadband service across the country,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “The first guidance we are releasing today respects each state’s right to choose to build its own radio access network, while still ensuring that first responders have access to a nationwide broadband network that will improve their ability to respond to emergencies and save lives.”

The notice lays out NTIA’s initial views on the comprehensive, multi-step process outlined in the Act for a state seeking authorization to deploy a proposed alternative RAN.  In order to operate its own RAN, a state will need to negotiate a spectrum capacity lease with FirstNet.  In addition, the state may also apply to NTIA for grant funds for the construction of its RAN.  The notice provides the preliminary criteria NTIA will use to evaluate such requests.

The public is invited to submit comments on this notice by August 18, 2016. Comments can be submitted via email to

About NTIA:

NTIA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policy making focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.