So it's not surprising there's a current hitch and it has to do with money: Members of the FCC are split over the plan to auction the public safety swath of wireless spectrum by early next year. Some want to auction both the so-called “H” block of spectrum, currently unused, ASAP, to get FirstNet rolling. Others want to couple the auction with that of the “AWS3” spectrum, currently used by federal agencies and not available for auction yet, to bring in more bidders and more money. How this argument plays out will affect when we see FirstNet completed.
FirstNet will be built to public-safety grade standards using Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology and is intended to deliver greater coverage, capacity, connectivity, cybersecurity and resiliency than the current multiplicity of diverse public safety wireless systems. Andrew Seybold, longtime wireless advocate and vice chair of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) broadband committee, said in August that his best guess is that FirstNet will be built out starting sometime in 2014 and that it will take several years to complete nationwide.