Almost 15 years since 9/11 and more than a decade since the 9/11 Commission recommended an interoperable broadband emergency communications network following the firefighter communications issues at the World Trade Center, the government has put out an RFP for building that system, dubbed FirstNet.
FCC spectrum auctions are paying for the multi-billion dollar project, but thanks to the success of the first auction, AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction, which ended last year and brought in more than $40 billion, the proceeds from the upcoming broadcast incentive auction will not have to cover that cost—about $7 billion.
That helped embolden the FCC to ask for more than the $1.75 billion post-auction transition fund the incentive auction legislation allocated, or alternatively to hold the FCC to that figure as a budget for (and thus cap on) the number of stations it could relocate. The FCC did not treat it as a cap, and NAB continues to argue for more financial flexibility if the $1.75 billion is not enough.
The FirstNet RFP was issued by the Department of the Interior on behalf of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the Obama administration's chief telecom policy advisor.