NTIA announces FirstNet state planning grant requirements

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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Feb. 6 state allocations of $121.5 million in federal grant money to be used for planning the nationwide public safety broadband network.

States must apply for their share--calculated in large measure according to a formula weighted to favor higher populations--by March 19. The funds come with a matching requirement of at least 20 percent, either in the form of cash or in-kind contributions. NTIA capped the federal grant maximum at $6 million; Texas is the only state to have reached it under the formula, although California comes close at $5.8 million.

The money is meant to be used over 3 years for activities that include establishing a governance structure to interface with the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, the autonomous agency within the NTIA set up to architect and implement the network.

In an additional sign that FirstNet believes the broadband network can't be built entirely with standalone government-owned infrastructure, among the 3 year deliverables required under the NTIA grant funding is development of a memorandum agreement between state recipients "to facilitate the use of existing infrastructure with private sector entities that have been chosen by FirstNet to build, operate, and maintain the network on public safety infrastructure."

Congress in 2012 allocated $7.23 billion for creation of the public safety nationwide network, with the money to come from auctions of privately held spectrum licenses with a portion of the proceeds to go back to the original license holder as an incentive.

For more:
- go to the NTIA announcement of State and Local Implementation Grant Program funding availability

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