House Schedules FirstNet Checkup

The House Communications Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 2 to check up on the progress of FirstNet.

That is the interoperable broadband first responder network born out of the communications failures on 9/11 and funded by FCC incentive auctions. It was created, though it has yet to be built, by incentive auction legislation that Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) was instrumental in motormanning on the House side.

The subcommittee will hear testimony on its progress as well as the recently released request for proposal to build out the network. It will also look at the FCC's progress on its responsibilities for FirstNet deployment.

One of those was to pay the $7 billion price tag out of auction proceeds. Last year's AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction raised enough to pay for FirstNet and more so the broadcast incentive auction will not have to carry any of that freight.

Walden had some encouraging words for FirstNet. “Especially In times of emergency, it is critical that first responders are able to communicate and coordinate for their own safety and to protect families and communities,” he said in announcing the hearing. “We continue to monitor FirstNet’s progress toward deploying this nationwide public safety network. Despite a tough start, FirstNet has demonstrated it is moving forward and getting closer to delivering for our nation’s first responders."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.