FCC plans auction to fund FirstNet

large broadcasting antenna

The Federal Communications Commission announced plans to auction 10 megahertz of spectrum for commercial use as part of a longstanding effort to raise funds for the planned nationwide broadband emergency communication system dubbed FirstNet.

The FCC expects to raise a minimum of $1.56 billion with the auction – the first of several designed to make 65 Mhz available to commercial users and fund FirstNet activities by February 2015.

Last week, the FirstNet board approved a $194 million spending plan for fiscal 201; the total price tag for the system is pegged at $7 billion. The system has already met with considerable controversy in the planning stages, with some states indicating they might not participate.

The idea for the system was borne out of the chaos of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when first responders across jurisdictional lines could not establish radio communications. Twelve years later, the need for cross-jurisdictional communications persists.

"The sad events at the Navy Yard shooting remind us of the critical importance of giving our first responders the best tools available to help them protect the public and save lives," a FirstNet spokeswoman told FCW on Sept. 16. "The FirstNet network will enable first responders across agencies to communicate more effectively and will deliver cutting edge public safety applications over high-speed broadband straight to fire trucks, ambulances and police cars."

The auction will take place Jan. 14, 2014, and will ensure that, "substantial revenues will flow to FirstNet," acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in a statement.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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