My IWCE “Can’t Miss” List

This year’s International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) promises to be jam-packed with interesting short courses, informative College of Technology sessions, cutting-edge tech demos, and provoking panelist discussions. Much has changed since this time last year—FirstNet has made significant progress in their state consultation process, they published a Request for Information to inform an eventual Request for Proposal, and this week the Authority released a thorough Second Notice that details FirstNet’s current understanding of the legislation. Add to that the fact that the AWS-3 spectrum auctions closed at a whopping $44.9 billion (making it the most successful radio spectrum auction in history) and you’ve got the ingredients for some very intriguing times at IWCE.

Here are the sessions that I won’t be missing this year:

  • Next-Generation Wireless Networks: 4G, LTE, and Broadband (College of Technology)Monday, March 16; 1:00—4:30 pm
  • FirstNet Hot Legal and Regulatory IssuesWednesday, March 18; 11:00 am—12:15 pm
  • The State of the StatesWednesday, March 18; 1:15 pm—2:30 pm
  • Mission Critical Voice over LTEWednesday, March 18; 4:15 pm—5:30 pm
  • Wearable Technology for Critical Infrastructure, Public Safety, and the EnterpriseThursday, March 19; 11:15 am—12:30 pm
  • What You Need to Know About the Internet of Things (College of Technology)Friday, March 20; 8:30 am—12:00 pm

I’m also very much looking forward to hearing Roger Cressey ‘s keynote about cyber risk and the interconnectivity of today’s workplace and and checking out the newest and coolest demonstrations in the Exhibit Hall.

What sessions have you marked on your calendar and what’s missing this year? Don’t fret if you can’t make it to Vegas, Corner Alliance will be publishing “Our Take on IWCE 2015” shortly after the show to fill you in on our impressions!

The Auction Picture is Looking Bright for FirstNet

On November 13, the FCC opened the bidding for valuable AWS-3 spectrum. This is the second of three auctions whose proceeds will go towards funding FirstNet (the First Responder Network Authority), deficit reduction, and other public safety broadband communications efforts like next generation 911 and public safety research and development projects. The auction is happening as we speak, but the story started long ago.  

Some Background

In 2008 the FCC attempted to auction the “D Block” with the intent of a wireless carrier buying the rights to the spectrum under the condition of supporting a public safety broadband network (the D Block is adjacent to a chunk of spectrum already allocated for public safety use). No participants were willing to bid enough to hit the reserve price set by the FCC and so the auction (and hopes for a public safety network) failed.

Public safety then rallied to lobby Congress to re-allocate the D Block to public safety to give them a contiguous 10x10 block of 700MHz spectrum to host a dedicated public safety broadband network and also legislate a funding mechanism. In 2012 the Middle Class Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act did just that. In addition to allocating the D Block to public safety, the legislation mandated a series of spectrum auctions that would fund the build out of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) and created FirstNet to be responsible for the deployment and management of the network. The revenue from the auctions is to be placed into a “Public Safety Trust Fund” after re-location costs are recovered for the Federal agencies that will have to be re-located to free up the spectrum being auctioned.


Auction Progress to Date

The first auction to occur was the H Block auction in February 2014, which generated $1.56 Billion.

After 29 rounds, the AWS-3 auction has topped $35B. The FCC had set the reserve price for this spectrum at $10 Billion, which means that proceeds are going to far surpass the reserve price and meet all requirements for FirstNet funding and other critical public safety broadband communications efforts at NTIA, NIST, and Next Gen 911.

The 600 MHz auction (aka the incentive auctions), originally slated to occur in late 2014 has now been pushed to 2016 and will generate even more revenue for the Public Safety Trust Fund and deficit reduction.

While there are still logistical hurdles to jump through, the future is looking bright for FirstNet and the public safety community.