America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) has announced that its member stations have committed in principle to an allocation of 1 Mbps of their public television spectrum to participate in the FirstNet nationwide public safety network. The organization’s membership approved the commitment this week during the annual membership meeting at The APTS Public Media Summit.
The APTS is a non-profit membership organization established in 1979 to conduct strategic planning, research, communications, advocacy and other activities to support the public television system.
“For years, public broadcasters have embraced their public safety mission and are focused on maximizing the broadcast spectrum for the public good,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler. “Public television stations are already partnering with state and local public safety, law enforcement and first responder organizations – connecting these agencies with one another, with the public and with vital datacasting services that use the broadcast spectrum to help first responders securely send critical information and video during times of crisis.”
"In addition, public broadcasters provide a backbone for emergency alerts and warnings to the public," Butler said. "This commitment of a small portionof spectrum to FirstNet will allow public broadcasters to deepen and broaden this public safety commitment at both the community and national levels.
Butler said APTS looks forward to working with FirstNet to operate the systems and meet its public safety objectives.
The announcement emerges on the heels of the recent release of FirstNet’s Request for Proposal (RFP), a major step forward in FirstNet’s efforts to modernize communications for first responders. Initially, FirstNet set the deadline of March 17, 2016 for capability statements and April 29, 2016 for proposals.
However, to allow more time to answer questions received, FirstNet has extended the deadline for submitting capability statements by two weeks, to March 31. The deadline for proposals has also been extended by two weeks.
“We are pleased with the interest and questions we received from industry, states, and public safety regarding the FirstNet RFP,” said FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth. “This is a vital next step in the iterative process as potential offerors work to craft their proposed solutions to deploy the first-of-its-kind wireless network dedicated to first responders, and FirstNet staff are diligently working to answer each question.”
During emergencies, public safety officials rely on thousands of separate communications systems which often lack interoperability or the ability to communicate across agencies and jurisdictions. Consequently, FirstNet was established by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to develop a nationwide, interoperable wireless broadband network for public safety use.
FirstNet plans to award the contract in the fourth quarter of 2016, and to begin deploying the network in mid-2017.