Why build ​a National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN)​



Following the tragic events of 9/​11 and Hurricane ​Katrina,​ the reports from these tragedies determined that existing communications infrastructure was inadequate and recommended the creation of a nationwide, interoperable public safety communications network to resolve the challenges faced by emergency responders. 

Since then, the public safety community has made significant progress in advancing emergency communications capabilities through enhanced coordination, formalized governance structures, planning, training, exercise ​and equipment purchases. Public safety also worked with State and local government officials, the Federal government, and Members of Congress to gather support for establishing a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband​ network.

During this time, the private sector developments in high-speed, wireless communications technology have now presented public safety with a platform to enhance information sharing and communications during emergencies and day-to-day operations. For example, ​through broadband technology, public safety professionals can access video images of a crime in progress, download floor plans of a burning building, or connect rapidly and securely with personnel from other communities.

First Responder Network Authority - FirstNet: The Law


Title VI of The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (PL112-96) (also known as the Spectrum Act) includes provisions to fund and govern a national public safety broadband network; it authorizes the FCC to conduct incentive auctions to raise $7 billion for building and managing the new NPSBN.

Additionally it reallocates the 700 MHz D Block spectrum (or Band Class 14) to public safety, and it establishes the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to oversee network planning, construction, and operation.


The Spectrum Act also designated $135 Million under the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) for planning, education, outreach, and asset inventories, in anticipation of the network build-out.