FCC Renews FirstNet’s 700 MHz Band License

The FCC renewed FirstNet’s 700 MHz band license for another ten years from the expiration of its initial license, or for the remaining period of its authorization from Congress, whichever is sooner. The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau concluded that FirstNet satisfied the renewal standard by demonstrating it met the duties stated in the Spectrum Act.

The license is specifically for the 758-769/788-799 MHz band. FirstNet’s contract with AT&T has provided public safety users with access to AT&T’s LTE network while buildout of the Band 14 network continues, according to the Commission.

“As required by the Act, the FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) uses a single, national network architecture, based on open, commercial standards, that consists of a core network and a radio access network (RAN),” says the FCC in the order. “The core network provides connectivity between the RAN and the public internet or the public switched network, or both. The RAN consists of cell site equipment, antennas, and backhaul equipment that enable wireless communications with devices using the public safety broadband spectrum on Band 14.”

Some commenters told the FCC that FirstNet is required under the Spectrum Act to make the NPSBN interoperable with non-FirstNet networks, and that the Commission should impose this requirement as a license condition. The FCC disagrees and finds that FirstNet has satisfied the requirement to build and operate an “interoperable” nationwide network.

The FirstNet Authority is due to sunset in 2027. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) recently introduced a bill to reauthorize FirstNet permanently. 

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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