News Release

August 3, 2012

Texas Authorized to Activate Public Safety Broadband Network

Network will enable seamless information sharing, communication among first responders
AUSTIN – The State of Texas this week received authorization by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin operating a broadband network that will ultimately enhance public safety communications across the state by providing more data and access to communication resources to first responders than is currently available. The order released by the FCC enables Texas to begin deploying and operating public safety LTE ("4G" cellular technology) networks immediately, which will become part of the nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, called FirstNet.  

"This approval by the FCC is great news for the State of Texas and will allow us to enhance communication capabilities among the law enforcement and first responder communities," said DPS Director Steven McCraw. "The ability to immediately share information across law enforcement jurisdictions and among emergency responders is critical to public safety."

The FCC's order authorized the State of Texas, in partnership with Harris County's Information Technology Center, to activate the first public safety broadband network in Texas, which will also become one of the first that will begin operating in the U.S.

FirstNet will provide instant interoperability between first responders across the nation, which was a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission. FirstNet will provide responders with increased communication capacity and higher reliability for routine actions and major events. FirstNet's enhanced communication capabilities throughout the nation will support transmitting video from most any source to any responder; provide the communications to coordinate multiple jurisdictions responding to an event; enable responders and incident commanders to access all information to provide complete awareness of any given situation; and provide for virtual seamless interoperable communications between mutual aid organizations.

In comparison, moving from current data systems to FirstNet will be similar to the transition from dial-up Internet to broadband. The capabilities under FirstNet are significantly greater than those available under the current data systems.

While the FCC order authorized operation of the network in Harris County, the authorization is only provided until September 2, 2012. The State of Texas must obtain Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the FCC to extend authorization for an additional 180 days, which the State will be seeking within the next week.

The State of Texas remains focused on providing first responders with secure, reliable and state-of-the-art communication capabilities, which will greatly enhance their ability to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Texas.

For additional information about the FCC order, visit: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db0731/FCC-12-85A1.pdf

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