Signed into law on February 22, 2012, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The law gives FirstNet the mission to build, operate and maintain the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet will provide a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications.
This broadband network will fulfill a fundamental need of the public safety community as well as the last remaining recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. FirstNet will bring 21st century tools to tens of thousands of organizations and individuals that respond to emergencies at the local, state, tribal and federal levels.
The FirstNet organization is the first of its kind. Never before has Congress established an independent government authority with a mandate to provide specialized communication services for public safety. Using nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, FirstNet will put an end to decades-long interoperability and communications challenges and help keep our communities and emergency responders safer.
The law gives FirstNet a blueprint for its mission. It outlines processes and guidelines that FirstNet must follow in building the network. FirstNet is tasked with cost-effectively creating a nationwide network and providing wireless services to public safety agencies across the country. Through the assessment of fees, FirstNet must generate sufficient funds to enable the organization to operate, maintain and improve the network each year.
Congress made history by allocating valuable spectrum and up to $7 billion in funding for the construction of the FirstNet network. To create a nationwide network, all 56 U.S. states and territories must have a radio access network that is connected to the FirstNet core network. To contain costs, FirstNet is tasked with leveraging existing telecommunications infrastructure and assets. This includes exploring public/private partnerships that can help support and accelerate the creation of this new advanced wireless network.
FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. FirstNet is governed by a 15-member Board consisting of the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and 12 members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. The FirstNet Board is composed of representatives from public safety; local, state and federal government; and the wireless industry. These dedicated individuals bring their expertise, experience and commitment to serving public safety and meeting the FirstNet mission.
FirstNet is a new and growing organization. The search for talent to fill management, outreach and technical positions is actively underway. We invite you to support our mission and visit our website regularly to follow our progress.