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States Receive $58 Million to Plan for FirstNet Coverage

These grant awards will help states identify and prioritize where public safety broadband coverage is needed.

On Monday the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) disbursed $58 million in grant awards to states and territories, which will use the money to collect data on their needs for public safety broadband coverage.

Specifically, the data will be used to plan for a national public safety broadband network that’s being developed by First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to aid federal, state and local emergency responders.

The $58 million in funding is the second installment of grants that NTIA has released to 54 states and territories. The funding will be used to “collect data identifying and prioritizing where public safety broadband coverage is needed, identifying potential users and their capacity needs, and detailing current providers and procurement mechanisms,” NTIA said in a news release.

“This second phase of funding will help states and territories ensure the network meets their most pressing needs for coverage,” NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling said in a statement.

The 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act that created FirstNet called for NTIA to develop the State and Local Implementation Grant Program to help states and territories plan for the network and conduct outreach. NTIA split the funding into two phases. For phase one, the agency also awarded $58 million to the same group of 54 states and territories. States used the first round of funding to educate public safety officials and to “determine their needs, gaps and priorities for public safety wireless broadband and to prepare for formal consultations with FirstNet,” according to NTIA.

States and territories will be able to use some funding from phase one to meet a July 31 deadline, set by FirstNet, for grantees to provide initial data about their coverage needs.

FirstNet hosted a webinar with state points of contact on Monday to discuss data-collection activities for phase two. The data that states gather will be used in the development of a FirstNet request for proposal to industry.

FirstNet is hosting committee meetings on Tuesday to discuss technology, outreach, governance and personnel, and finance matters. A board meeting will take place Wednesday. View the details here.

Keith Brofsky/thinkstock
Mar 23 2015

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