By TJ Kennedy, FirstNet Acting General Manager
Last week, the public comment and response periods closed for FirstNet’s Public Notice and Comment and Request for Information (RFI) with draft Statement of Objectives after being open for more than a month. FirstNet appreciates the feedback from the states, major public safety associations, tribal interests, utilities, individuals, and private sector entities that participated in the process.
The Public Notice and RFI drew a total of 64 and 122 responses, respectively, and the FirstNet team is moving quickly to review and analyze all of them. The responses to the Public Notice can be found online at regulations.gov. Because the RFI replies are procurement sensitive, they will be kept confidential.
While it is still early in the review process, FirstNet is pleased with the quality of the responses to both the Public Notice and RFI. FirstNet will use the feedback from these and other sources to provide input into the development of an acquisition strategy for deploying the nationwide public safety broadband network. This includes the development of a comprehensive network Request for Proposal (RFP).
The Public Notice, in particular, generated helpful feedback on a number of complex issues related to FirstNet’s enabling legislation, such as the core network, the radio access network, the definition of a “public safety entity,” rural coverage milestones, and fees. The definition of public safety entity generated the most comments, with almost 80% of respondents weighing in on the issue.
Most of the responses supported FirstNet’s preliminary interpretation that the definition should be broad in scope. Some commenters advocated for a narrower definition that would only apply to traditional public safety entities, such as fire, law enforcement, and EMS. A few respondents suggested that FirstNet craft a definition that falls somewhere in between.
We appreciate all of the feedback on the definition issue. It will help FirstNet develop a more informed position. The divergence of opinions on this and other Public Notice subjects shows the value of providing an opportunity for the public safety community and other stakeholders to help shape how the network will be built.
FirstNet expects to provide additional opportunities for stakeholder input on the issues raised in the RFI and Public Notice in the coming months, such as webinars and industry day events. We also anticipate learning more through our consultation efforts.
We look forward to providing more updates on our review in the future. Thank you.