The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent authority within NTIA to provide emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed, broadband network dedicated to public safety.

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.

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.


Interoperability is the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer. Products achieve interoperability with other products using either or both of two approaches:

  • By adhering to published interface standards
  • By making use of a "broker" of services that can convert one product's interface into another product's interface "on the fly".


Land Mobile Radio systems is a connected collection of portable and stationary radio units designed to provide instant communications among geographically dispersed and mobile personnel over predefined frequencies. Typical LMR systems consist of a central dispatch console or base station that controls communications to the disparate handheld or mobile units in the field. The systems might also employ repeaters to extend the range of communications for the mobile users. LMR systems use the following frequencies:

  • Low VHF Band – 30 to 50 MHz – for large area coverage
  • High VHF Band – 150 to 172 MHz – for medium range
  • UHF – 450 to 472 MHz – for smaller area coverage

700 MHz has been dedicated for public safety; 800MHz bands are licensed to public safety and industry users.


Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a 4G wireless broadband technology developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an industry trade group. 3GPP engineers named the technology "Long Term Evolution" because it represents the next step (4G) in a progression from GSM, a 2G standard, to UMTS, the 3G technologies based upon GSM. LTE provides significantly increased peak data rates, with the potential for 100 Mbps downstream and 30 Mbps upstream, reduced latency, scalable bandwidth capacity, and backwards compatibility with existing GSM and UMTS technology. Future developments could yield peak throughput on the order of 300 Mbps. The upper layers of LTE are based upon TCP/IP, which will likely result in an all-IP network similar to the current state of wired communications. LTE will support mixed data, voice, video and messaging traffic.


The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) will be a dedicated, wireless, interoperable, communications network that allows public safety to receive and share critical information with their counterparts across the nation. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is an independent authority within the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration that will hold the spectrum license for the NPSBN; specify the network requirements; develop a plan for network deployment for each state; and work with state, local, and tribal governments to create an interoperable, nationwide network.


The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration manages the Federal government's use of spectrum. FirstNet is an independent authority within the NTIA.


A radio access network (RAN) is part of a mobile telecommunication system that provides connection between a device such as a mobile phone, or any remotely controlled machine, and its core network. It implements one or more radio access technologies, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and 3G, 4G or LTE.


State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) is administered by NTIA to fund planning for the national public safety broadband network.