NTIA reopens BTOP application window for public safety broadband systems

The NTIA announced that it will provide an opportunity for certain state and local governments to apply for broadband stimulus funding to support public safety projects. The potential applicants are the state and local governmental entities that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently permitted to deploy public safety broadband systems using the 700 MHz public safety broadband spectrum. NTIA’s decision supports the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s goal of improving public safety communications and provides that community with the opportunity to obtain funding for an initial set of networks that will help lay the groundwork for a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.

“The FCC has just cleared the way for a number of state and local governments to deploy new public safety broadband systems,” Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. “Given the administration’s commitment to improving the communications networks of our fire, police and rescue personnel, NTIA is offering these governments the opportunity to apply for broadband stimulus funding to help build their networks. We hope to receive strong proposals that merit investment in order to advance the deployment of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network that makes America safer.”

Applications in the second round of NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the Recovery Act, were due in late March 2010. On May 11, 2010, the FCC adopted an Order granting conditional waiver authority to various state and local governments to use 700 MHz spectrum to deploy public safety broadband systems on a local or regional basis. These governments may have previously been discouraged from filing BTOP applications because they did not have the legal authority to use the spectrum. As a result of this significant development, and given the national priority of improving public safety communications, NTIA will accept applications for infrastructure projects from the affected parties from June 1, 2010 to July 1, 2010. The agency will publish an official notice and further details in the Federal Register.