FirstNet OKs first spectrum-lease pact, short-term staffing strategy

During a special board meeting, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) unanimously approved an agreement giving the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS) access to FirstNet's 700 MHz spectrum.

The term of the lease with LA-RICS is for five years or until the state of California makes a decision regarding its participation in the FirstNet deployment plan. LA-RICS' board approved the spectrum-lease pact earlier this month, making Los Angeles the first jurisdiction to sign up to use FirstNet's broadband public-safety spectrum. The agreement is available for public review.

Sue Swenson, the FirstNet board member charged with negotiating the lease agreements, said LA-RICS will not be charged spectrum lease fees during the agreement's term in exchange for its working with FirstNet on gathering key information and sharing lessons that will be used for planning the LTE-based national public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

"This does not relieve the jurisdiction from future fees that may have to be paid for use of the nationwide network," said Swenson.

The LA-RICS Joint Powers Authority (JPA) hopes to release a request for proposals (RFP) for its LTE public-safety network by the last week in July, according to Mission Critical Communications.

LA-RICS was one of seven Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) public-safety entities whose BTOP funding was halted last year due to concerns the BTOP projects might be incompatible with the NPSBN.

Crafting the lease agreements has been a complicated process because FirstNet wants to ensure it maintains control of the spectrum and retains the ability to integrate the BTOP operations in the national NPSBN footprint once it is established, while the cities, states and regions want to protect their rights to opt out of FirstNet and also want to ensure they have operating flexibility, said FirstNet Board Chairman Sam Ginn.

"They are worried about future costs based on FirstNet requirements as we evolve into a national system," said Ginn.

The remaining six BTOP projects are the Adams County (Colorado) Communications Center, the City of Charlotte (North Carolina), the Executive Office of the State of Mississippi, Motorola Solutions (San Francisco Bay area); the New Jersey Department of the Treasury and the New Mexico Department of Information Technology. Spectrum lease negotiations with the six BTOP projects and the State of Texas for Harris County are ongoing, said FirstNet.

During the special meeting, the FirstNet board also approved a resolution mapping out a personnel acquisition strategy for FirstNet to meet its short-term specialized staffing needs as FirstNet works to hire full-time employees. FirstNet has technical staff working under contract, funding for which is expected to run out in September.

In a closed session, the board discussed an approach for crafting a follow-on contract, said Randy Lyon, the board's acting CFO. FirstNet expects to announce the contract opportunities in the next several weeks.

In addition, FirstNet expects to issue a total of 17 requests for information (RFIs) over the next few weeks regarding potential deployment options for the NPSBN's radio access network (RAN) and core network. The RFIs cover many pieces of equipment that will be used in constructing the NPBSN as well as the services and software development needed to run that network, said board member Craig Farrill.

For more:
- see this FirstNet release and this release 
- see this FirstNet board resolution and LA-RICS lease agreement (PDF)
- see this Mission Critical Communications article

Related articles:
Los Angeles is first BTOP grantee to approve FirstNet spectrum-lease pact
FirstNet allows more time for BTOP spectrum-lease negotiations
FirstNet board OKs spending increase, continues special review process
FirstNet reports progress on restarting BTOP LTE projects
FirstNet ready to resume early public-safety LTE projects
FirstNet may soon decide fate of suspended BTOP-funded networks

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