[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 95 (Wednesday, May 16, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 28857-28860]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11818]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No: 120509050-1050-01]
RIN 0660-XC001


Development of the State and Local Implementation Grant Program 
for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Request for Information.

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SUMMARY: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
(NTIA) is issuing a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public 
comment on various issues relating to the development of the State and 
Local Implementation grant program, which NTIA must establish pursuant 
to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 to assist 
state and local governments in planning for a single, nationwide 
interoperable public safety broadband network. NTIA intends to use the 
input from this process to inform the development of programmatic 
requirements to govern the state and local planning grants program.

DATES: Comments must be received by June 15, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern 
Daylight Time.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by email to SLIGP@ntia.doc.gov. 
Comments submitted by email should be machine-searchable and should not 
be copy-protected. Written comments also may be submitted by mail to: 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. 
Department of Commerce, HCHB Room 4812, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., 
Washington, DC 20230. Please note that all material sent via the U.S. 
Postal Service (including Overnight or Express Mail) is subject to 
delivery delays of up to two weeks due to mail security procedures. 
Responders should include the name of the person or organization filing 
the comment, as well as a page number, on each page of their 
submissions. Paper submissions should also include an electronic 
version on CD or DVD in .txt, .pdf, or Word format (please specify 
version), which should be labeled with the name and organizational 
affiliation of the filer and the name of the word processing program 
used to create the document. All emails and comments received are a 
part of the public record and will generally be posted to the NTIA Web 
site (http://www.ntia.doc.gov) without change. All personally 
identifying information (for example, name, address, etc.) voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit 
Confidential Business Information or otherwise sensitive or protected 
information.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura M. Pettus, Communications 
Program Specialist, Office of Telecommunications and Information 
Applications, National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue 
NW., Room 4878, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-4509; email: 
lpettus@ntia.doc.gov. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA's Office of 
Public Affairs, (202) 482-7002.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed the Middle Class Tax 
Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act).\1\ The Act meets a long-
standing priority of the Obama Administration to create a single, 
nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network that will, for 
the first time, allow police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical 
service professionals, and other public

[[Page 28858]]

safety officials to communicate with each other across agencies and 
jurisdictions. Public safety workers have long been hindered by 
incompatible, and often outdated, communications equipment and this Act 
will help them to do their jobs more safely and effectively.
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    \1\ Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Public 
Law 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012) (Act).
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    The Act establishes the First Responder Network Authority 
(FirstNet) as an independent authority within NTIA and authorizes it to 
take all actions necessary to ensure the design, construction, and 
operation of a nationwide public safety broadband network (PSBN), based 
on a single, national network architecture.\2\ FirstNet is responsible 
for, at a minimum, ensuring nationwide standards for use and access of 
the network; issuing open, transparent, and competitive requests for 
proposals (RFPs) to build, operate and maintain the network; 
leveraging, to the maximum extent economically desirable, existing 
commercial wireless infrastructure to speed deployment of the network; 
and overseeing contracts with non-federal entities to build, operate, 
and maintain the network.
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    \2\ Id. at Sec.  6206(b)(1).
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    Additionally, the Act charges NTIA with establishing a grant 
program to assist State, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions with 
identifying, planning, and implementing the most efficient and 
effective means to use and integrate the infrastructure, equipment, and 
other architecture associated with the nationwide PSBN to satisfy the 
wireless and data services needs of their jurisdiction.\3\ Up to $135 
million will be available to NTIA for the State and Local 
Implementation grant program.\4\ NTIA must establish requirements for 
this program not later than six months after the date of enactment 
(i.e., August 22, 2012). The programmatic requirements for the State 
and Local Implementation grant program must include, at a minimum, a 
determination of the scope of eligible activities that will be funded, 
a definition of eligible costs, and a method to prioritize grants for 
activities that ensure coverage in rural as well as urban areas.\5\
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    \3\ Id. at Sec.  6302(a).
    \4\ Id. at Sec.  6301(c).
    \5\ Id. at Sec.  6302(c).
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    NTIA is requesting public comment on certain aspects of the Act's 
provisions relating to the establishment of the State and Local 
Implementation grant program.

Request for Comment

The Consultation Process

    1. Section 6206(c)(2) of the Act directs FirstNet to consult with 
regional, State, tribal, and local jurisdictions about the distribution 
and expenditure of any amounts required to carry out the network 
policies that it is charged with establishing. This section enumerates 
several areas for consultation, including: (i) Construction of a core 
network and any radio access network build-out; (ii) placement of 
towers; (iii) coverage areas of the network, whether at the regional, 
State, tribal, or local level; (iv) adequacy of hardening, security, 
reliability, and resiliency requirements; (v) assignment of priority to 
local users; (vi) assignment of priority and selection of entities 
seeking access to or use of the nationwide public safety interoperable 
broadband network; and (vii) training needs of local users. What steps 
should States take to prepare to consult with FirstNet regarding these 
issues?
    a. What data should States compile for the consultation process 
with FirstNet?
    b. Should this activity be covered by the State and Local 
Implementation grant program?
    2. The Act requires that each State certify in its application for 
grant funds that the State has designated a single officer or 
governmental body to serve as the coordinator of implementation of the 
grant funds.\6\
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    \6\ Id. at Sec.  6302(d).
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    a. Who might serve in the role as a single officer within the State 
and will it or should it vary for each State?
    b. Who might serve on the governmental body (e.g., public partners, 
private partners, technical experts, Chief Information Officers, SWIC, 
finance officials, or legal experts)?
    c. How should the States plan to involve the local entities in the 
State and Local Implementation grant program?
    d. How should the States plan to involve the tribal entities in the 
grant program?
    e. What requirements should be included in the grant program to 
ensure that local and tribal public safety entities are able to 
participate in the planning process?
    f. How should the State and Local Implementation grant program 
ensure that all public safety disciplines (e.g., police, sheriffs, 
fire, and EMS) have input into the State consultation process?
    g. How should the State and Local Implementation grant program 
define regional (e.g., interstate or intrastate) and how might the 
grant program be structured to facilitate regional participation 
through the States?
    h. How should States plan to involve the Federal users and entities 
located within their States in the grant program?
    3. The Act contemplates that FirstNet will consult with States 
regarding existing infrastructure within their boundaries, tower 
placements, and network coverage, which FirstNet can use to develop the 
requests for proposals called for by the Act. The States, however, will 
need time and funding to collect the necessary information before they 
are ready to consult with FirstNet.
    a. Given these interrelated activities, how should the State and 
Local Implementation grant program be used by States to assist in 
gathering the information to consult with FirstNet?
    b. Should consistent standards and processes be used by all States 
to gather this information? If so, how should those policies and 
standards be established? What should those policies and standards be?
    c. What time period should NTIA consider for States to perform 
activities allowed under the grant program as it relates to gathering 
the information to consult with FirstNet?

Existing Public Safety Governance and Planning Authorities

    4. Over the years, States have invested resources to conduct 
planning and to create governance structures around interoperable 
communications focused primarily on Land Mobile Radio (LMR) voice 
communications, including the Statewide Interoperability Coordinators 
(SWIC) and Statewide Interoperability Governing Bodies (SIGB), often 
called Statewide Interoperability Executive Committees (SIEC).
    a. What is the current role of these existing governance structures 
in the planning and development of wireless public safety broadband 
networks?
    b. What actions have the States' governance structures (e.g., SWIC, 
SIGB, or SIEC) taken to begin planning for the implementation of the 
nationwide public safety broadband network?
    c. Can these existing governance structures be used for the PSBN, 
and if so, how might they need to change or evolve to handle issues 
associated with broadband access through the Long Term Evolution (LTE) 
technology platform?
    d. What is or should be the role of the Statewide Communications 
Interoperability Plans (SCIPs) in a State's planning efforts for the 
nationwide public safety broadband network?
    e. What actions do the States need to take to update the SCIPs to 
include broadband?

[[Page 28859]]

    f. Should the costs to change or evolve existing governance and 
Statewide Plans be eligible in the new program?
    g. Should the maintenance of those existing governance bodies and 
plans be eligible in State and Local Implementation grant program?

Leveraging Existing Infrastructure

    5. How should States and local jurisdictions best leverage their 
existing infrastructure assets and resources for use and integration 
with the nationwide public safety broadband network?
    a. How should States and local jurisdictions plan to use and/or 
determine the suitability of their existing infrastructure and 
equipment for integration into the public safety broadband network?
    b. What technical resources do States have available to assist with 
deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network?
    c. How will States include utilities or other interested third 
parties in their planning activities?
    d. Should NTIA encourage planning for the formation and use of 
public/private partnerships in the deployment of the nationwide public 
safety broadband network? If so, how?
    6. Section 6206(b)(1)(B) of the Act directs FirstNet to issue open, 
transparent, and competitive requests for proposals (RFPs) to private 
sector entities for the purposes of building, operating, and 
maintaining the network. How can Federal, State, tribal, and local 
infrastructure get incorporated into this model?
    a. How would States plan for this integration?
    b. Should States serve as clearinghouses or one-stop shops where 
entities bidding to build and operate portions of the FirstNet network 
can obtain access to resources such as towers and backhaul networks? If 
so, what would be involved in setting up such clearinghouses?
    c. Should setting up a clearinghouse be an eligible cost of the 
grant program?

State and Local Implementation Grant Activities

    7. What are some of the best practices, if any, from existing 
telecommunications or public safety grant programs that NTIA should 
consider adopting for the State and Local Implementation grant program?
    8. What type of activities should be allowable under the State and 
Local Implementation grant program?
    9. What types of costs should be eligible for funding under the 
State and Local Implementation grant program (e.g., personnel, planning 
meetings, development/upgrades of plans, or assessments)?
    a. Should data gathering on current broadband and mobile data 
infrastructure be considered an allowable cost?
    b. Should the State and Local Implementation grant program fund any 
new positions at the State, local, or tribal level that may be needed 
to support the work to plan for the nationwide public safety broadband 
network? If so, what, if any, restrictions should NTIA consider placing 
on the scope of hiring and the type of positions that may be funded 
under the grant program?
    10. What factors should NTIA consider in prioritizing grants for 
activities that ensure coverage in rural as well as urban areas?
    11. Are there best practices used in other telecommunications or 
public safety grant programs to ensure investments in rural areas that 
could be used in the State and Local Implementation grant program?
    12. In 2009, NTIA launched the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) 
grant program to facilitate the integration of broadband and 
information technology into state and local economies.
    a. Do States envision SBI state designated entities participating 
or assisting this new State and Local Implementation grant program?
    b. How can the SBI state designated entities work with States in 
planning for the nationwide public safety broadband network?
    13. What outcomes should be achieved by the State and Local 
Implementation grant program?
    a. Are there data that the States and local jurisdictions should 
deliver to document the outcomes of the grant program?
    b. If so, how should they be measured?
    c. Who should collect this information and in what format?
    d. What data already exist and what new data could be gathered as 
part of the program?
    14. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Emergency 
Communications (OEC) has developed the following tools through its 
Technical Assistance Program available at http://www.publicsafetytools.info, including: (1) Mobile Data Usage and Survey 
Tool--Survey process to document the current-state mobile data 
environment, in preparation for a migration to LTE; (2) Statewide 
Broadband Planning Tool--Template and support on Statewide strategic 
broadband planning issues designed to serve as an addendum to the SCIP; 
(3) Frequency Mapping Tool--Graphical tool to display FCC license 
information and locations including cellular sites within a 
jurisdiction; and (4) Communications Assets Survey and Mapping Tool 
(CASM)--Data collection and analysis tool for existing land mobile 
radio assets. Should States be encouraged to utilize tools and support 
available from Federal programs such as those developed by OEC? Are 
there other programs or tools that should be considered?
    15. Do the States have a preferred methodology for NTIA to use to 
distribute the grant funds available under the State and Local 
Implementation grant program?
    a. Should NTIA consider allocating the grant funds based on 
population?
    b. What other targeted allocation methods might be appropriate to 
use?
    c. Should NTIA consider phasing the distribution of grant funds in 
the new program?

State Funding and Performance Requirements

    16. What role, if any, should the States' Chief Information Officer 
(CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) play in the State and Local 
Implementation grant program and the required consultations with 
FirstNet? How will these different positions interact and work with 
public safety officials under the State and Local Implementation grant 
program?
    17. The Act requires that the Federal share of the cost of 
activities carried out under the State and Local Implementation grant 
program not exceed 80 percent and it gives the Assistant Secretary the 
authority to waive the matching requirement, in whole or in part, if 
good cause is shown and upon determining that the waiver is in the 
public interest.\7\ As NTIA develops the State and Local Implementation 
grant program, what are some of the factors it should consider 
regarding States' ability to secure matching funds?
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    \7\ Id. at Sec.  6302(b).
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    18. What public interest factors should NTIA consider when weighing 
whether to grant a waiver of the matching requirement of State and 
Local Implementation grant program?

Other

    19. Please provide comment on any other issues that NTIA should 
consider in creating the State and Local Implementation grant program, 
consistent with the Act's requirements.


[[Page 28860]]


    Dated: May 11, 2012.
Lawrence E. Strickling,
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.
[FR Doc. 2012-11818 Filed 5-15-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-60-P