oversight

Emergency Communications: Various Challenges Likely to Slow Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-02-22.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                United States Government Accountability Office

GAO             Report to Congressional Requesters




February 2012
                EMERGENCY
                COMMUNICATIONS
                Various Challenges
                Likely to Slow
                Implementation of a
                Public Safety
                Broadband Network




GAO-12-343
                                              February 2012

                                              EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS
                                              Various Challenges Likely to Slow Implementation of
                                              a Public Safety Broadband Network
Highlights of GAO-12-343, a report to
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                        What GAO Found
Emergency responders across the               After the investment of significant resources—including billions of dollars in
nation rely on land mobile radio (LMR)        federal grants and approximately 100 megahertz of radio frequency spectrum—
systems to gather and share                   the current land mobile radio (LMR) systems in use by public safety provide
information and coordinate their              reliable “mission critical” voice capabilities. For public safety, mission critical
response efforts during emergencies.          voice communications must meet a high standard for reliability, redundancy,
These public safety communication             capacity, and flexibility. Although these LMR systems provide some data
systems are fragmented across                 services, such as text and images, their ability to transmit data is limited by the
thousands of federal, state, and local        channels on which they operate. According to the Department of Homeland
jurisdictions and often lack
                                              Security (DHS), interoperability among LMR systems has improved due to its
“interoperability,” or the ability to
                                              efforts, but full interoperability of LMR systems remains a distant goal.
communicate across agencies and
jurisdictions. To supplement the LMR
systems, in 2007, radio frequency             Multiple federal entities are involved with planning a public safety broadband
spectrum was dedicated for a                  network and while such a network would likely enhance interoperability and
nationwide public safety broadband            increase data transfer rates, it would not support mission critical voice
network. Presently, 22 jurisdictions          capabilities for years to come, perhaps even 10 years or more. A broadband
around the nation have obtained               network could enable emergency responders to access video and data
permission to build public safety             applications that improve incident response. Yet because the technology
broadband networks on the original            standard for the proposed broadband network does not support mission critical
spectrum assigned for broadband use.          voice capabilities, first responders will continue to rely on their current LMR
This requested report examines (1) the        systems for the foreseeable future. Thus, a broadband network would
investments in and capabilities of LMR        supplement, rather than replace, current public safety communication systems.
systems; (2) plans for a public safety
broadband network and its expected            There are several challenges to implementing a public safety broadband
capabilities and limitations; (3)             network, including ensuring the network’s interoperability, reliability, and security;
challenges to building this network;          obtaining adequate funds to build and maintain it; and creating a governance
and (4) factors that affect the prices of     structure. For example, to avoid a major shortcoming of the LMR systems, it is
handheld LMR devices. GAO                     essential that a public safety broadband network be interoperable across
conducted a literature review, visited
                                              jurisdictions and devices by following five key elements to interoperable
jurisdictions building broadband
                                              networks: governance, standard operating procedures, technology, training, and
networks, and interviewed federal,
industry, and public safety                   usage. With respect to creating a governance structure, pending legislation—the
stakeholders, as well as academics            Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, among other things—
and experts.                                  establishes a new entity, the First Responder Network Authority, with
                                              responsibility for ensuring the establishment of a nationwide, interoperable public
What GAO Recommends                           safety broadband network.
The Department of Homeland Security
                                              The price of handheld LMR devices is high—often thousands of dollars—in part
(DHS) should work with partners to
                                              because market competition is limited and manufacturing costs are high. Further,
identify and communicate opportunities
for joint procurement of public safety        GAO found that public safety agencies cannot exert buying power in relationship
LMR devices. In commenting on a draft         to device manufacturers, which may result in the agencies overpaying for LMR
of this report, DHS agreed with the           devices. In particular, because public safety agencies contract for LMR devices
recommendation. GAO also received             independently from one another, they are not in a strong position to negotiate
technical comments, which have been           lower prices and forego the quantity discounts that accompany larger orders. For
incorporated, as appropriate, in the          similar situations, GAO has recommended joint procurement as a cost saving
report.                                       measure because it allows agencies requiring similar products to combine their
                                              purchase power and lower their procurement costs. Given that DHS has
View GAO-12-343 . For more information,
contact Mark L. Goldstein at (202) 512-2834   experience in emergency communications and relationships with public safety
or goldsteinm@gao.gov.                        agencies, it is well-suited to facilitate joint procurement of handheld LMR devices.

                                                                                        United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                                 1
                       Background                                                                      4
                       Even With Investment of Significant Resources, Current Public
                         Safety Communication Systems Provide Mission Critical Voice
                         Capabilities but Are Not Fully Interoperable                                13
                       Planning for a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network
                         Progresses, but Such a Network Will Not Support Mission
                         Critical Voice for the Foreseeable Future                                   18
                       Various Challenges Could Jeopardize the Implementation and
                         Functionality of a Public Safety Broadband Network                          24
                       Limited Competition and High Manufacturing Costs Increase the
                         Price of Handheld LMR Devices, but Options Exist to Reduce
                         Prices                                                                      29
                       Conclusions                                                                   35
                       Recommendation for Executive Action                                           37
                       Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                            37

Appendix I             Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                            40



Appendix II            Federal Grant Programs for Emergency Communications                           44



Appendix III           Comments from the Department of Commerce                                      50



Appendix IV            Comments from the Department of Homeland Security                             52



Appendix V             GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                         55



Related GAO Products                                                                                 56




                       Page i              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Tables
          Table 1: Key Elements for Mission Critical Voice Capabilities                    6
          Table 2: Waiver Jurisdictions as of January 2012 and Federal Funds
                   Provided for Public Safety Broadband Networks                         10
          Table 3: Challenges to Developing Mission Critical Voice
                   Capabilities for LTE                                                  23
          Table 4: Jurisdictions Contacted                                               41
          Table 5: Commerce Grants with Emergency Communications as an
                   Allowable Expenditure                                                 44
          Table 6: DHS Grants with Emergency Communications as an
                   Allowable Expenditure                                                 46
          Table 7: Department of Justice Grants with Emergency
                   Communications as an Allowable Expenditure                            48
          Table 8: Other Grants with Emergency Communications as an
                   Allowable Expenditure                                                 49


Figures
          Figure 1: Depiction of LMR System                                               5
          Figure 2: Current Allocation of Public Safety Spectrum                         15
          Figure 3: Additional Emergency Response Capabilities from
                   Increased Data Transfer Rates and Bandwidth                           21
          Figure 4: SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum with Five Key
                   Elements                                                              26
          Figure 5: Example of Infrastructure Required for Current LMR
                   Systems and a Public Safety Broadband Network                         28




          Page ii              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Abbreviations

APCO                       Association of Public-Safety Communications
                           Officials
BTOP                       Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
CAP                        Compliance Assessment Program
COPS                       Community Oriented Policing Services
Commerce                   Department of Commerce
DHS                        Department of Homeland Security
DOT                        Department of Transportation
GSA                        General Services Administration
ECPC                       Emergency Communications Preparedness Center
ERIC                       Emergency Response Interoperability Center
FEMA                       Federal Emergency Management Agency
FCC                        Federal Communications Commission
GHz                        gigahertz
HHS                        Department of Health and Human Services
kHz                        kilohertz
LMR                        land mobile radio
LTE                        Long Term Evolution
MHz                        megahertz
NIST                       National Institute of Standards and Technology
NTIA                       National Telecommunications and Information
                           Administration
NPSTC                      National Public Safety Telecommunications Council
OEC                        Office of Emergency Communications
OIC                        Office of Interoperability and Compatibility
OJP                        Office of Justice Programs
P25                        Project 25
PSHSB                      Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
PSCR                       Public Safety Communications Research
PSST                       Public Safety Spectrum Trust
USDA                       Department of Agriculture
UHF                        ultra high frequency
VHF                        very high frequency

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Page iii                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   February 22, 2012

                                   Congressional Requesters

                                   Communication systems are essential for public safety officials—
                                   especially first responders such as police officers and firefighters—to
                                   gather and share information and coordinate their response efforts to
                                   save lives during emergencies. Currently, the public safety community
                                   uses radio frequency spectrum to transmit and receive critical voice
                                   communications through land mobile radio (LMR) systems that are
                                   operated by and licensed to state and local jurisdictions. 1 However, such
                                   LMR systems can have issues with compatibility, continuity, and capacity
                                   in times of large scale emergencies or disasters. 2 In particular, LMR
                                   systems often lack “interoperability”—that is, they lack the capabilities that
                                   allow first responders to communicate with their counterparts in other
                                   agencies and jurisdictions as authorized. Notably, during the terrorist
                                   attacks of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the lack of
                                   interoperable public safety communications hampered rescue efforts and
                                   the overall effectiveness of public safety operations. Indeed, public safety
                                   communication systems are fragmented across thousands of federal,
                                   state, and local jurisdictions. This fragmentation hampers operations and
                                   puts emergency responders and the public at risk when the responders
                                   cannot talk to one another. More than 7 years after the bipartisan 9/11
                                   Commission reported that compatible and adequate communications
                                   among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels
                                   need to be addressed, the United States still lacks interoperable public
                                   safety communications despite substantial investment by emergency
                                   response agencies to improve their LMR systems. 3 One factor
                                   contributing to continued interoperability issues between jurisdictions is




                                   1
                                    The radio frequency spectrum is the part of the natural spectrum of electromagnetic
                                   radiation lying between the frequency limits of 3 kilohertz (kHz) and 300 gigahertz (GHz).
                                   Radio signals travel through space in the form of waves. These waves vary in length, and
                                   each wavelength is associated with a particular radio frequency.
                                   2
                                    Capacity refers to a communication system’s ability to handle demand, provide coverage,
                                   and send different types of information.
                                   3
                                    9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National
                                   Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Washington, D.C.: July 2004).




                                   Page 1                    GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
the slow progress in developing standards for the communication devices
that operate on these LMR systems.

LMR systems currently have the capacity to handle only minimal data
transmissions. To supplement the current LMR systems, plans for a
second communication system that would provide nationwide broadband
services are underway. Such a network would operate on a different
portion of the radio frequency spectrum from the LMR systems. In 2007,
the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assigned a portion of
spectrum in the upper 700 megahertz (MHz) band exclusively to public
safety for broadband use. 4 Some stakeholders advocated for an
additional block of spectrum—known as the “D Block”—to be dedicated to
public safety. In March 2008, FCC attempted to auction the D Block with
public safety encumbrances but failed to attract a winning commercial
bidder. 5 Pending legislation, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, includes a provision reallocating the D Block to
public safety. 6 Public safety officials believe a public safety broadband
network would support important data transmission during emergencies,
provide first responders with information not currently available (such as
vital signs of critically injured people), and foster greater interoperability.
However, FCC has estimated that a stand-alone broadband network
would cost approximately $15 billion to construct. 7 Furthermore, due to its



4
 Congress, in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251,
mandated that FCC allocate 24 MHz of spectrum for public safety services by January 1,
1998.
5
 See Auction 73, 700 MHz Band, at (last accessed Feb. 17, 2012)
http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/default.htm?job=auction_summary&id=73.
6
 As of February 17, 2012, the House of Representatives and the Senate had adopted the
conference report accompanying the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of
2012, but the legislation had not been signed by the President at the time our work was
completed on February 21, 2012. H.R. Rep. 112-399, accompanying the Middle Class
Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, H.R. 3630, 112th Cong. (2012) as reported out
on February 16, 2012.
7
 FCC, A Broadband Network Cost Model: A Basis for Public Funding Essential to Bringing
Nationwide Interoperable Communications to America’s First Responders, OBI Technical
Paper No. 2 (May 2010). FCC staff told us they believe, based on information in the
marketplace, that the cost of the network has risen since the May 2010 publication. The
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act authorizes $7 billion for the construction of
the network from the potential proceeds of “incentive auctions.” Incentive auctions are a
special type of auction in which an existing user could receive a portion of the proceeds
from the auction if the user relinquishes its rights to the spectrum.




Page 2                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
technical limitations, the broadband network would not replace the LMR
systems for the foreseeable future. A number of jurisdictions sought
permission from FCC to begin constructing local or regional public safety
broadband networks, and since May 2010, FCC has granted permission
to 22 jurisdictions.

Given the important issues surrounding the development of a public
safety broadband network, you asked us to provide information about
current and planned public safety communication networks and the
progress being made to support both voice and data needs. We
examined (1) the resources that have been provided for current public
safety communication systems and their capabilities and limitations, (2)
how a nationwide public safety broadband network is being planned and
its anticipated capabilities and limitations, (3) the challenges to building a
nationwide public safety broadband network, and (4) the factors that
influence competition and cost in the development of public safety
communication devices and the options that exist to reduce prices.

To address these objectives, we met with officials and reviewed
documentation from 6 of the 22 jurisdictions that received permission
from FCC to begin deploying a 700 MHz public safety broadband
network, including the San Francisco Bay area, California; Adams
County, Colorado; Iowa; Boston, Massachusetts; Mississippi; and Texas.
We selected locations based on several criteria, including whether they
received federal funding and the size of the planned broadband network.
In all of the locations, we interviewed government agencies involved with
planning a broadband network, and in locations where planning had
progressed, we also interviewed emergency responders who were part of
the planning process and vendors selected to build the network, among
others. We also interviewed federal agencies involved in public safety
communications issues, including entities within the Department of
Commerce (Commerce)—the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST), the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA), and the Public Safety Communications Research
(PSCR) program; the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and
Justice; and FCC. In addition, we reviewed relevant documents from
these federal entities, including several FCC rulemakings related to
developing a broadband network and public safety device competition.
We reviewed relevant legislation and conducted a literature review of 43
articles from governmental and academic sources related to emergency
communication networks and devices. We interviewed representatives of
public safety associations, researchers and consultants recognized for
their expertise in public safety communications, and manufacturers of


Page 3                GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
             public safety devices, as well as private sector analysts who track this
             industry. We identified experts and industry stakeholders based on prior
             published literature, stakeholder recognition and affiliation with the
             emergency communications and public safety spectrum, and other
             stakeholders’ recommendations. Further details of our scope and
             methodology are provided in appendix I.

             We conducted this performance audit from March 2011 to February 2012
             in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
             Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
             sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
             findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
             the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
             conclusions based on our audit objectives.


             Currently, public safety officials primarily communicate with one another
Background   using LMR systems that support voice communication and usually consist
             of handheld portable radios, mobile radios, base stations, and repeaters,
             as described: 8

             •   Handheld portable radios are typically carried by emergency
                 responders and tend to have a limited transmission range.

             •   Mobile radios are often located in vehicles and use the vehicle’s
                 power supply and a larger antenna, providing a greater transmission
                 range than handheld portable radios.

             •   Base station radios are located in fixed positions, such as dispatch
                 centers, and tend to have the most powerful transmitters. A network is
                 required to connect base stations to the same communication system.

             •   Repeaters increase the effective communication range of handheld
                 portable radios, mobile radios, and base station radios by
                 retransmitting received radio signals.


             8
              Public safety officials include all emergency responders and public safety agencies, such
             as firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who are the first to arrive at the scene of an
             emergency, as well as other responders such as hospital personnel, who might not be on
             the scene of an emergency but are essential in supporting effective response and
             recovery operations. Public safety agencies include 911 call centers that are also
             essential in supporting an effective response.




             Page 4                     GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                    Figure 1 illustrates the basic components of an LMR system.

Figure 1: Depiction of LMR System




                                    LMR systems are generally able to meet the unique requirements of
                                    public safety agencies. For example, unlike commercial cellular networks,
                                    which can allow seconds to go by before a call is set up and answered,
                                    LMR systems are developed to provide rapid voice call-setup and group-
                                    calling capabilities. When time is of the essence, as is often the case
                                    when public safety agencies need to communicate, it is important to have
                                    access to systems that achieve fast call-set up times. Furthermore, LMR
                                    systems provide public safety agencies “mission critical” voice
                                    capabilities—that is, voice capabilities that meet a high standard for
                                    reliability, redundancy, capacity, and flexibility. Table 1 describes the key
                                    elements for mission critical voice capabilities, as determined by the
                                    National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC). 9



                                    9
                                     NPSTC is a federation of organizations whose mission is to improve public safety
                                    communications and interoperability through collaborative leadership.




                                    Page 5                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Table 1: Key Elements for Mission Critical Voice Capabilities

Key element                   Description
Direct or talk around         Ability to communicate unit-to-unit when out of range of a wireless network or when working in a
                              confined area; both the transmitter and receiver operate without support from infrastructure.
Push-to-talk                  Ability to communicate instantly by pushing a button on the device to transmit a voice message. The
                              speaker releases the button to return to a listening mode of operation.
Full duplex voice systems     Ability for multiple users to communicate (talk and listen) at the same time; for example, when
                              communications are necessary with outside parties such as citizens with emergencies, language
                              translation services, and other outside agencies providing service to an incident or event.
Group talk                    Ability to communicate on a one-to-many basis. Group talk is of vital importance to the public safety
                              community because it enables a speaker to simultaneously communicate to every member of a
                              group, such as all firefighters in the interior of a burning building.
Talker identification         Ability to identify who is speaking at any given time.
Emergency alerting            Ability to communicate that a life-threatening condition has been encountered and that immediate
                              access to the system is required.
High quality audio            Ability to hear audio in adverse conditions without repetition of the message; for example, an
                              emergency responder must be able to hear prime voice communications regardless of background
                              noises, such as a siren.
                                          Source: GAO based on NPSTC information.


                                          According to NPSTC, for a network to fully support public safety mission
                                          critical voice communications, each of the elements in table 1 must
                                          address part of the overall voice communications services supported by
                                          the network. In other words, NPSTC believes a network cannot be a
                                          mission critical network without all of these elements. Furthermore, unlike
                                          commercial networks, mission critical communication systems rely on
                                          “hardened” infrastructure, meaning that tower sites and equipment have
                                          been designed to provide reliable communications even in the midst of
                                          natural or man-made disasters. To remain operable during disasters,
                                          mission critical communications infrastructure requires redundancy, back-
                                          up power, and fortification against environmental stressors such as
                                          extremes of temperature and wind.

                                          Nationwide, there are approximately 55,000 public safety agencies.
                                          These state and local agencies typically receive a license from FCC to
                                          operate and maintain their LMR voice systems. Since these systems are
                                          supported by state and local revenues, the agencies generally purchase
                                          equipment and devices using their own local budgets without always
                                          coordinating their actions with nearby agencies, which can hinder
                                          interoperability. Since 1989, public safety associations have collaborated
                                          with federal agencies to establish common technical standards for LMR
                                          systems and devices called Project 25 (P25). The purpose of these
                                          technical standards is to support interoperability between different LMR



                                          Page 6                            GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
systems, that is, to enable seamless communication across public safety
agencies and jurisdictions. While the P25 suite of standards is intended to
promote interoperability by making public safety systems and devices
compatible regardless of the manufacturer, it is a voluntary standard and
currently incomplete. 10 As a result, many LMR devices manufactured for
public safety are not compatible with devices made by rival
manufacturers, which can undermine interoperability.

The federal government plays an important role in public safety
communications by providing funding for emergency communication
systems and working to increase interoperable communication systems.
Congress, in particular, has played a critical role by designating radio
frequency spectrum for public safety use. Furthermore, Congress can
direct action by federal agencies and others in support of public safety.
For example, through the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Congress
established DHS and required the department, among other things, to
develop a comprehensive national incident management system
comprising all levels of government and to consolidate existing federal
government emergency response plans into a single, coordinated
national response plan. 11

In its regulatory role, FCC licenses all public safety spectrum for state,
local, and regional communication networks across the country. This
includes more than 134,000 licenses for current public safety LMR
narrowband communication systems and the single nationwide public
safety broadband license. 12 As part of the digital television transition,
Congress, under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, mandated that FCC
allocate 24 MHz of spectrum for public safety use. 13 FCC divided the 24
MHz by assigning 12 MHz for public safety narrowband use and 10 MHz



10
  The P25 suite of standards contains 8 open interfaces that exist between the various
components of an LMR system. According to a PSCR official, of the 8 interfaces, only
about 1.5 were complete at the time of our report.
11
  Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L. No. 107-296, §502(5) and (6),116 Stat. 2135,
2212 (2002).
12
  The number of licenses excludes the 700 MHz public safety broadband license, the 4.9
GHz band, and public safety point-to-point microwave licenses.
13
  Pending legislation, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012,
increases the amount of spectrum FCC is required to allocate for public safety from 24 to
34 MHz.




Page 7                    GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
for public safety broadband use. 14 In September 2006, FCC established
its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), which is
responsible for developing, recommending, and administering FCC’s
policies pertaining to public safety communications issues. FCC has
issued a series of orders and proposed rulemakings and adopted rules
addressing how to develop a public safety broadband network, some of
which are highlighted:

•    In 2007, FCC adopted an order to create a nationwide broadband
     network with the 10 MHz of spectrum designated for a public safety
     broadband network and the adjacent 10 MHz of spectrum––the Upper
     700 MHz D Block, or “D Block.” 15 As envisioned by FCC, this
     nationwide network would be shared by public safety and a
     commercial provider and operated by a public/private partnership.
     However, when FCC presented the D Block for auction in 2008 under
     these conditions, it received no qualifying bids and thus was not
     licensed. Subsequently it was found that the lack of commercial
     interest in the D Block was due in part to uncertainty about how the
     public/private partnership would work. 16 Although many stakeholders
     and industry participants called for the D Block to be reallocated to
     public safety, an alternate view is that auctioning the D Block for
     commercial use would have generated revenues for the U.S.
     Treasury. 17 As noted previously, a provision in pending legislation, the
     Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, reallocates the
     D Block to public safety.

•    In 2007, FCC licensed the 10 MHz of spectrum that FCC assigned for
     public safety broadband use to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust
     (PSST), a nonprofit organization representing major national public
     safety associations. This 10 MHz of spectrum, located in the upper


14
 The remaining 2 MHz were used as guardbands to protect from unwanted interference.
Second Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd. 15289 (2007).
15
  Spectrum is divided into frequency bands, each having technical characteristics that
affect electronic transmission in different ways. “Bandwidth” is related to the transmission
capacity of a frequency band and both the bandwidth and the frequency band can be
described in MHz.
16
  FCC issued two further notices of proposed rulemakings since it attempted to auction
the D Block, and a final order has not been adopted.
17
  When FCC auctions spectrum, the proceeds are to be deposited in the U.S. Treasury.
49 U.S.C. §309(j)(8).




Page 8                    GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
     700 MHz band is adjacent to the spectrum allocated to public safety
     for LMR communications. As the licensee, the PSST’s original
     responsibilities included representing emergency responders’ needs
     for a broadband network and negotiating a network sharing
     agreement with the winner of the D Block auction. However, since the
     D Block was not successfully auctioned, FCC stayed the majority of
     the rules guiding the PSST. 18

•    In 2009, public safety entities began requesting waivers from FCC’s
     rules to allow early deployment of broadband networks in the 10 MHz
     of spectrum licensed to the PSST, and since 2010, FCC granted
     waivers to 22 jurisdictions for early deployment. 19 These jurisdictions
     had to request waivers because the rules directing the deployment of
     a broadband network were not complete. In this report, we refer to the
     22 entities receiving waivers as “waiver jurisdictions.” As a condition
     of these waivers, FCC required that local or regional networks would
     interoperate with each other and that all public safety entities in the
     geographic area would be invited to use the new networks. In
     addition, FCC required that all equipment operating on the 700 MHz
     public safety broadband spectrum comply with Long Term Evolution
     (LTE), a commercial data standard for wireless technologies. 20 As
     shown in table 2, of the 22 jurisdictions that successfully petitioned for
     waivers, only 8 received federal funding. Seven waiver jurisdictions
     received funding from NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities
     Program (BTOP), a federal grant program authorized through the
     American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that had several




18
  Third Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice, Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-
762 and 777-792 Bands; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public
Safety Network in the 700 MHz Band, 26 FCC Rcd 733 (2011).
19
  Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700 MHz
Interoperable Public Safety Wireless Broadband Networks, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 5145, May
12, 2010; Requests for Waiver of Various Petitioners to Allow the Establishment of 700
MHz Interoperable Public Safety Wireless Broadband Networks, Order, 25 FCC Rcd
6783, May 12, 2011.
20
  LTE—the standard created and adopted by the Third Generation Partnership Project, a
standards organization—is the closest standard to fourth generation wireless (4G)
technology that existed at that time. LTE has been accepted and adopted by national and
international communities as the foundation for future mobile telecommunications.




Page 9                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
     purposes, including promoting the expansion of broadband
     infrastructure. 21


Table 2: Waiver Jurisdictions as of January 2012 and Federal Funds Provided for
Public Safety Broadband Networks
                                                                     a
Jurisdiction                                        Federal funds        Source
Los Angeles Regional Interoperable                  $154.6 million       BTOP
Communications System (LA-RICS), California
Mississippi Wireless Communications                 70.1 million         BTOP
Commission
San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose                50.6 million         BTOP
                    b
(BayWEB), California
New Jersey                                          39.6 million         BTOP
New Mexico                                          38.7 million         BTOP
Charlotte, North Carolina                           16.7 million         BTOP
Adams County Communications Center,                 12.1 million         BTOP
Colorado
Texas                                               7.6 million          Port Security Grant
                                                    750,000              Regional
                                                                         Catastrophic
                                                                         Planning Grant
Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties,
Wisconsin
Boston, Massachusetts
Chesapeake, Virginia
Mesa, Arizona/TOPAZ Regional Wireless
Cooperative
New York, New York
Pembroke Pines, Florida
San Antonio, Texas
Seattle, Washington
District of Columbia
Hawaii and various cities and counties
Iowa
New York




21
  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat. 115
(2009).




Page 10                     GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                                                                   a
    Jurisdiction                                                Federal funds          Source
    Oregon
              c
    Alabama
    Total                                                       $390.8 million
Source: GAO analysis of FCC and NTIA data.

a
    This field appears empty for jurisdictions with no federal funds identified.
b
    Motorola, Inc., is the recipient of the BTOP funds used to build the BayWEB network.
c
Alabama applied and was granted a waiver but did not execute a lease agreement with the PSST.


•       In January 2011, FCC adopted rules and proposed further rules to
        create an effective technical framework for ensuring the deployment
        and operation of a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband
        network. 22 As part of this proceeding, FCC sought comment on
        technical rules and security for the network as well as testing of
        equipment to ensure interoperability. The comment period for the
        proceeding closed on April 11, 2011, and FCC received comments
        from waiver jurisdictions, consultants, and manufacturers, among
        others. As of February 7, 2012, FCC did not have an expected
        issuance date for its final rules.

In addition to FCC, DHS has been heavily involved since its inception in
supporting public safety by assisting federal, state, local, and regional
emergency response agencies and policy makers with planning and
implementing interoperable communication networks. Within DHS,
several divisions have focused on improving public safety
communications. DHS also has administered groups that bring together
stakeholders from all levels of government to discuss interoperability
issues:

•       The Emergency Communications Preparedness Center (ECPC) was
        created in response to Hurricane Katrina by the 21st Century
        Emergency Communications Act of 2006 to help improve
        intergovernmental emergency communications information sharing. 23


22
  FCC issued its Third Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking in this proceeding. See, Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792
Bands; Implementing a Nationwide, Broadband, Interoperable Public Safety Network in
the 700 MHz Band; Amendment of Part 90 of the Commission Rules, Third Report and
Order and Fourth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 14301 (2011).
23
     Pub. L. No.109-295, §671, 120 Stat.1433, 1440 (2006).




Page 11                            GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
    The ECPC has 14 member agencies with a goal, in part, to support
    and promote interoperable public safety communications through
    serving as a focal point and clearing house for information. It has
    served to facilitate collaboration across federal entities involved with
    public safety communications.

•   SAFECOM is a communications program that provides support,
    including research and development, to address interoperable
    communications issues. Led by an executive committee, SAFECOM
    has members from state and local emergency responders as well as
    intergovernmental and national public safety communications
    associations. DHS draws on this expertise to help develop guidance
    and policy. Among other activities, SAFECOM publishes annual grant
    guidance that outlines recommended eligible activities and application
    requirements for federal grant programs providing funding for
    interoperable public safety communications.

Within Commerce, NTIA and NIST are also involved in public safety
communications by providing research support to the PSCR program.
The PSCR serves as a laboratory and advisor on public safety standards
and technology. It provides research and development to help improve
public safety interoperability. For example, the PSCR has ongoing
research in many areas related to communications, including the
voluntary P25 standard for LMR communication systems, improving
public safety interoperability, and the standards and technologies related
to a broadband network. PSCR also conducts laboratory research to
improve the audio and video quality for public safety radios and devices.




Page 12               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Even With Investment
of Significant
Resources, Current
Public Safety
Communication
Systems Provide
Mission Critical Voice
Capabilities but Are
Not Fully
Interoperable

Public Investment        Congress has appropriated billions in federal funding over the last decade
                         to public safety in grants and other assistance for the construction and
                         maintenance of LMR voice communication systems and the purchase of
                         communication devices. Approximately 40 grant programs administered
                         by nine federal agencies have provided this assistance for public safety. 24
                         Some of the grants provided a one-time infusion of funds, while other
                         grants have provided a more consistent source of funding. For example,
                         in 2007, the one-time Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant
                         Program awarded more than $960 million to assist state and local public
                         safety agencies in the acquisition, planning, deployment, or training on
                         interoperable communication systems. 25 However, the Homeland Security
                         Grant Program has provided $6.5 billion since 2008, targeting a broad
                         scope of programs that enhance interoperability for states’ emergency
                         medical response systems and regional communication systems, as well
                         as planning at the community level to improve emergency preparedness.
                         See appendix II for more information about the grant programs.




                         24
                           Funding from these grants can support emergency communications; not all funding was
                         spent on the LMR voice communication systems.
                         25
                          The Public Safety Interoperable Communications Grant Program is an NTIA program
                         administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.




                         Page 13                 GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
State and local governments have also invested millions of dollars of their
own funds to support public safety voice communications, and continue to
do so. Jurisdictions we visited that received federal grants to support the
construction of a broadband network have continued to invest in the
upgrade and maintenance of their current LMR voice systems. For
example, Adams County, Colorado, has spent about $19.7 million since
2004 on its LMR system, including $6.9 million in local funds,
supplemented with $12.8 million in federal grants. Mississippi, another
jurisdiction we visited that is constructing a statewide broadband network,
has spent about $214 million on its LMR network, including $57 million in
general revenue bonds and $157 million in federal grants. 26 Officials in
the jurisdictions we contacted stressed the importance of investing in the
infrastructure of their LMR networks to maintain the reliability and
operability of their voice systems, since it was unclear at what point the
broadband networks would support mission critical voice
communications. In addition to upgrading and maintaining their LMR
networks, many jurisdictions are investing millions of dollars to meet
FCC’s requirement that communities use their spectrum more efficiently
by reducing the bandwidth on which they operate. 27

In addition to direct federal funding, the federal government has allocated
more than 100 MHz of spectrum to public safety over the last 60 years. 28
The spectrum is located in various frequency bands since FCC assigned
frequencies to public safety in new bands over time as available
frequencies became congested and public safety’s need for spectrum
increased. 29 Figure 2 displays the spectrum allocated to public safety,
which is located between 25 MHz and 4.9 GHz. As noted previously, the
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 requires FCC to
reallocate the D Block from commercial use to public safety use.


26
 Mississippi retained a portion of the grant funds for administrative purposes.
27
  FCC requires that public safety LMR systems migrate to at least 12.5 kHz efficiency
technology by January 1, 2013, in an effort to ensure more efficient use of the spectrum.
47 C.F.R. §90.209(b)(5), fn. 3.
28
  In comparison, FCC has licensed about 260 MHz of spectrum for broadband personal
communication services through auctions, which are a market-based mechanism in which
FCC assigns a license to the entity that submits the highest bid for specific bands of
spectrum. Public safety has received spectrum outside of the auction process.
29
  Approximately half of this allocation is located at 4.9 GHz, which according to DHS has
limited value to public safety. Ideal spectrum for public safety lies in the 150 to 800 MHz
bands.




Page 14                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Figure 2: Current Allocation of Public Safety Spectrum




                                         Public safety agencies purchase radios and communication devices that
                                         are designed to operate on their assigned frequency. Since different
                                         frequencies of radio waves have different propagation characteristics,
                                         jurisdictions typically use the spectrum that is best suited to their
                                         particular location. For example, very high frequency (VHF) channels—
                                         those located between 30 and 300 MHz—are more useful for
                                         communications that must occur over long distances without obstruction
                                         from buildings, since the signals cannot penetrate building walls very well.
                                         As such, VHF signals are well suited to rural areas. On the other hand,
                                         ultra high frequency (UHF) channels—those located between 300 MHz
                                         and 3 GHz—are more appropriate for denser urban areas as they have
                                         more capacity and can penetrate buildings more easily. When we visited
                                         Adams County, Colorado, we learned that public safety officials in the
                                         mountainous areas of Colorado use the 150 MHz and 450 MHz bands
                                         because of the range of the signals and their ability to navigate around
                                         the natural geography. However, public safety officials in the Denver,
                                         Colorado, metropolitan area operate on the 700 and 800 MHz frequency
                                         bands which can support more simultaneous voice transmissions, such
                                         as communications between fire, police, public utility, and transportation
                                         officials.




                                         Page 15              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Current Public Safety         The current public safety LMR systems use their allocated spectrum to
Communications                facilitate reliable mission critical voice communications. Such
Capabilities                  communications need to be conveyed in an immediate and clear manner
                              regardless of environmental and other operating conditions. For example,
                              while responding to a building fire, firefighters deep within the building
                              need the ability to communicate with each other even if they are out of
                              range of a wireless network. The firefighters are able to communicate on
                              an LMR system because their handheld devices operate on as well as off
                              network. Currently, emergency response personnel rely exclusively on
                              their LMR systems to provide mission critical voice capabilities. One
                              waiver jurisdiction we visited, Mississippi, is constructing a new statewide
                              LMR system and officials there noted a high degree of satisfaction with
                              the planned LMR system. They said the new system is designed to
                              withstand most disasters and when complete, will provide interoperability
                              across 97 percent of the state. Public safety officials in the coastal region
                              of the state have already used the system to successfully respond to
                              problems caused by the Mississippi River flooding in the spring of 2011.

                              LMR public safety communication systems also are able to provide some
                              data services but the systems are constrained by the narrowband
                              channels on which they operate. These channels allow only restricted
                              data transfer speeds, thus limiting capacity to send and receive data such
                              as text and images, or to access existing databases. Some jurisdictions
                              supplement their LMR systems with commercial data services that give
                              them better access to applications that require higher data transfer rates
                              to work effectively. However, commercial service also has limitations,
                              such as the lack of priority access to the network in an emergency
                              situation.


Interoperability of Current   According to DHS, interoperability of current public safety
Communication Systems         communications has improved as a result of its efforts. In particular, the
Remains a Limitation          DHS National Emergency Communications Plan established a strategy
                              for improving emergency communications across all levels of
                              government, and as a result, all states have a statewide interoperability
                              coordinator and governing body to make strategic decisions within the
                              state and guide current and future communications interoperability.
                              According to DHS, it has worked with states to help them evaluate and
                              improve their emergency communications abilities. DHS also helped to
                              develop the Interoperability Continuum, which identifies five critical
                              success elements to assist emergency response agencies and policy
                              makers to plan and implement interoperability solutions for data and voice
                              communications. Furthermore, DHS created guidance to ensure a


                              Page 16               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
consistent funding strategy for federal grant programs that allow
recipients to purchase communications equipment and enhance their
emergency response capabilities. As we have reported in the past,
interoperability has also improved due to a variety of local technical
solutions. 30 For example, FCC established mutual aid channels, whereby
specific channels are set aside for the sole purpose of connecting
incompatible systems. Another local solution is when agencies maintain a
cache of extra radios that they can distribute during an emergency to
other first responders whose radios are not interoperable with their own.

However, despite decades of effort, a significant limitation of current LMR
systems is that they are not fully interoperable. One reason for the lack of
interoperability is the fragmentation of spectrum assignments for public
safety, since existing radios are typically unable to transmit and receive in
all these frequencies. Therefore, a rural area using public safety radios
operating on VHF spectrum will not be interoperable with radios used in
an urban area that operate on UHF spectrum. While radios can be built to
operate on multiple frequencies, which could support greater
interoperability, this capability can add significant cost to the radios and
thus jurisdictions may be reluctant to make such investments. In addition,
public safety agencies historically have acquired communication systems
without concern for interoperability, often resulting in multiple, technically
incompatible radio systems. This is compounded by the lack of
mandatory standards for the current LMR systems or devices. Rather, the
P25 technical standards remain incomplete and voluntary, creating
incompatibility among vendors’ products. Furthermore, local jurisdictions
are often unable to coordinate to find solutions. Public safety
communication systems are tailored to meet the unique needs of
individual jurisdictions or public safety entities within a given region. As
such, the groups are reluctant to give up management and control of their
systems.




30
  GAO, First Responders: Much Work Remains to Improve Communications
Interoperability, GAO-07-301 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 2, 2007).




Page 17                GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Planning for a
Nationwide Public
Safety Broadband
Network Progresses,
but Such a Network
Will Not Support
Mission Critical Voice
for the Foreseeable
Future

Federal Role             Numerous federal entities have helped to plan and begin to define a
                         technical framework for a nationwide public safety broadband network. In
                         particular, FCC, DHS, and Commerce’s PSCR program, have
                         coordinated their planning and made significant contributions by
                         developing technical rules, educating emergency responders, and
                         creating a demonstration network, respectively.

                         Since 2008, FCC has:

                         •    Created a new division within its PSHSB, called the Emergency
                              Response Interoperability Center (ERIC), to develop technical
                              requirements and procedures to help ensure an operable and
                              interoperable nationwide network. 31

                         •    Convened two advisory committees, the ERIC Technical Advisory
                              Committee and the Public Safety Advisory Committee, that provide
                              advice to FCC. 32 The Technical Advisory Committee’s appointees
                              must be federal officials, elected officers of state and local
                              government, or a designee of an elected official. It makes


                         31
                          Establishment of an Emergency Response Interoperability Center, PS Docket 06-229,
                         Order, FCC 10-67 (rel. Apr. 23, 2010).
                         32
                           The Public Safety Advisory Committee is subject to the Federal Advisory Committee
                         Act; the Technical Advisory Committee is not. The Federal Advisory Committee Act
                         regulates the creation, operation, and termination of executive branch advisory
                         committees.




                         Page 18                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
    recommendations to FCC and ERIC regarding policies and rules for
    the technical aspects of interoperability, governance, authentication,
    and national standards for public safety. ERIC’s Public Safety
    Advisory Committee’s members can include representatives of state
    and local public safety agencies, federal users, and other segments of
    the public safety community, as well as service providers, equipment
    vendors, and other industry participants. Its purpose is to make
    recommendations for a technical framework that will ensure
    interoperability on a nationwide public safety broadband network.

•   Defined technical rules for the broadband network, including
    identifying LTE as the technical standard for the network, which FCC
    and public safety agencies believe is imperative to the goal of
    achieving an interoperable nationwide broadband network. In addition,
    FCC sought comments on other technical aspects and challenges to
    building the network in its most recent proceeding, which FCC hopes
    will further promote and enable nationwide interoperability. FCC
    officials said they continue to monitor the waiver jurisdictions that are
    developing broadband networks to ensure they are meeting the
    network requirements by reviewing required reports and quarterly
    filings.
Since 2010, DHS has:

•   Partnered with FCC, Commerce, and the Department of Justice to
    conduct three forums for public safety agencies and others. These
    forums provided insight about the needs surrounding the
    establishment of a public safety broadband network as they relate to
    funding, governance, and the broadband market.

•   Coordinated federal efforts on broadband implementation by bringing
    together the member agencies of ECPC. Also, ECPC updated its
    grant guidance for federal grant programs to clarify that broadband
    deployment is an allowable expense for emergency communications
    grant programs. These updates could result in more federal grant
    funding going to support the development of a broadband network.

•   Updated its SAFECOM program’s grant guidance targeting grant
    applicants to include information pertaining to broadband deployment,
    based on input from state and local emergency responders.

•   Worked with public safety entities to define the LTE standard and
    write educational materials about the broadband network.




Page 19               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                          •    Partnered with state and regional groups and interoperability
                               coordinators in preparing broadband guidance documentation.

                          •    Represented federal emergency responders and advocated for
                               sharing agreements between the federal government and the PSST
                               that will enable federal users, such as responders from the Federal
                               Emergency Management Agency, to access the broadband
                               network. 33

                          Since 2009, PSCR has:

                          •    Worked with public safety agencies to develop requirements for the
                               network and represents their interests before standards-setting
                               organizations to help ensure public safety needs are met.

                          •    Developed a demonstration broadband network that provides a
                               realistic environment for public safety and industry to test and observe
                               public safety LTE requirements on equipment designed for a
                               broadband network. According to PSCR representatives, the
                               demonstration network has successfully brought together more than
                               40 vendors, including manufacturers and wireless carriers. Among
                               many goals, PSCR aims to demonstrate to public safety how the new
                               technology can meet their needs and encourage vendors to share
                               information and results. FCC requires the 22 waiver jurisdictions and
                               their vendors to participate in PSCR’s demonstration network and
                               provide feedback on the challenges they have faced while building the
                               network. PSCR representatives told us that the lessons learned from
                               the waiver jurisdictions would be applied to future deployments.

                          •    Tested interoperable systems and devices and provided feedback to
                               manufacturers. Currently, there are five manufacturers working with
                               PSCR to develop and test systems and devices.

Broadband Network Could   With higher data speeds than the current LMR systems, a public safety
Improve Incident          broadband network could provide emergency responders with new video
Response                  and data applications that are not currently available. Stakeholders we
                          contacted, including waiver jurisdictions, emergency responders, and


                          33
                            Federal users are allowed to access the public safety broadband network, subject to the
                          public safety broadband licensee’s approval, 47 C.F.R. § 2.103(c)(1). FCC cannot license
                          federal users, but federal users might be able to subscribe to the network.




                          Page 20                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                       federal agencies, identified transmission of video as a key potential
                                       capability. For example, existing video from traffic cameras and police car
                                       mounted cameras could provide live video feeds for dispatchers.
                                       Dispatchers could use the video to help ensure that the proper personnel
                                       and necessary equipment are being deployed immediately to the scene of
                                       an emergency. Stakeholders we contacted predict that numerous data
                                       applications will be developed once a broadband network is complete,
                                       and that these applications will have the potential to further enhance
                                       incident response. These could range from a global positioning system
                                       application that provides directions based on traffic patterns to a 3D
                                       graphical floor plan display that supports firefighters’ efforts to battle
                                       building fires. In addition, unlike the current system, a public safety
                                       broadband network could provide access to existing databases of
                                       information, such as fire response plans and mug shots of wanted
                                       criminals, which could help to keep emergency responders and the public
                                       safe. As shown in figure 3, moving from lower bandwidth voice
                                       communications to a higher bandwidth broadband network unleashes the
                                       potential for the development of a range of public safety data applications.

Figure 3: Additional Emergency Response Capabilities from Increased Data Transfer Rates and Bandwidth




                                       Notes: The data transfer rates listed in this figure are estimates. Rates vary depending on whether
                                       data are uploaded or downloaded—typically, data are faster to download than to upload. Download
                                       speed is the speed of getting information from the Web to a computer or handheld device, and upload
                                       speed is the reverse. In addition, higher data transfer rates may be required when data are
                                       transmitted to or from a moving device or when a device is further from the tower transmitting the
                                       signal.




                                       Page 21                     GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                           Kb/s means kilobit per second, and mb/s means megabit per second.
                           Besides new applications, a public safety broadband network has the
                           potential to provide nationwide access and interoperability. Nationwide
                           access means emergency responders and other public safety officials
                           could access their home networks from anywhere in the country, which
                           could facilitate a better coordinated emergency response. Interoperability
                           on a broadband network could allow emergency responders to share
                           information irrespective of jurisdiction or type of public safety agency. For
                           example, officials from two waiver jurisdictions indicated that forest fires
                           are a type of emergency that brings together multiple jurisdictions, and in
                           these situations a broadband network could facilitate sharing of response
                           plans. However, an expert we contacted stressed that broadband
                           applications should be tailored to the bandwidth needs of the response
                           task. For example, responders should not use high-definition video when
                           grainy footage would suffice to enable them to pursue a criminal suspect.


Limitations of Broadband   A major limitation of a public safety broadband network is that it would not
Results in Continued       provide mission critical voice communications for many years. LTE, the
Reliance on LMR Voice      standard FCC identified for the public safety broadband network, is a
                           wireless broadband standard that is not currently designed to support
Systems                    mission critical voice communications. Commercial wireless providers are
                           currently developing voice over LTE capabilities, but this will not meet
                           public safety’s mission critical voice requirements because key elements
                           needed for mission critical voice, such as push-to-talk, are not part of the
                           LTE standard. 34 While one manufacturer believes mission critical voice
                           over LTE will be available as soon as 5 years, some waiver jurisdictions,
                           experts, government officials, and others told us it will likely be 10 years
                           or more due to the challenges described in table 3.




                           34
                             The LTE standard is still being developed.




                           Page 22                    GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Table 3: Challenges to Developing Mission Critical Voice Capabilities for LTE

Key element for mission
critical voice                  Challenges for LTE
Direct or talk around           As the LTE standard is a commercial standard, it may not be in the financial interest of commercial
                                providers to develop this capability.
Push-to-talk                    Standards need to be developed for this technology and the technology needs to be able to connect
                                and transmit with very little delay.
Group talk                      Messages to groups will require bandwidth and the amount can vary based on the size of the group.
                                The bandwidth for voice will take away from the bandwidth available for data.
High quality audio              Digital communications for radio networks have created challenges in the past and the new
                                technology should allow a voice to be understood without repetition, as well as allow background
                                noises to be heard without interference.
                                          Source: GAO based on industry information.


                                          Absent mission critical voice capabilities on a broadband network,
                                          emergency responders will continue to rely on their current LMR voice
                                          systems, meaning a broadband network would supplement, rather than
                                          replace, LMR systems for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, until
                                          mission critical voice communications exist, issues that exacerbated
                                          emergency response efforts to the terrorist attacks on September 11,
                                          2001—in particular, that emergency responders were not able to
                                          communicate between agencies—will not be resolved by a public safety
                                          broadband network. As a result, public safety agencies will continue to
                                          use devices operating on the current LMR systems for mission critical
                                          voice communications, and require spectrum to be allocated for that
                                          purpose. Additionally, public safety agencies may be reluctant to give up
                                          their LMR devices, especially if they were costly and are still functional.
                                          As jurisdictions continue to spend millions of dollars on their LMR
                                          networks and devices, they will likely continue to rely on such
                                          communication systems until they are no longer functional. 35

                                          In addition to not having mission critical communications, emergency
                                          responders may only have limited access to the public safety broadband
                                          network from the interior of large buildings. While the 700 MHz spectrum
                                          provides better penetration of buildings than other bands of the spectrum,
                                          if emergency responders expect to have access to the network from
                                          inside large buildings and underground, additional infrastructure will need
                                          to be constructed. For example, antennas or small indoor cellular stations


                                          35
                                            LMR devices typically operate for more than 10 years, much longer than the standard
                                          commercial device.




                                          Page 23                             GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                       could be installed inside buildings and in underground structures to
                       support access to the network. FCC is seeking comment on this issue as
                       part of its most recent proceeding. Without this added infrastructure,
                       emergency responders using the broadband network may not have
                       access to building blue prints or fire response plans during building
                       emergencies, such as a fire. In fact, one jurisdiction constructing a
                       broadband network that we visited told us their network would not support
                       in-building access in one city of the jurisdiction because the plan did not
                       include antennas for inside the buildings.

                       A final limitation to a public safety broadband network could be its
                       capacity during emergencies. Emergencies tend to happen in localized
                       areas that may be served by a single cell tower or even a single cellular
                       antenna on a tower. 36 With emergency responders gathering to fight a fire
                       or other emergency, the number of responders and the types of
                       applications in use may exceed the capacity of the network. If the network
                       reaches capacity it could overload and might not send life saving
                       information. 37 Therefore, the network would have to be managed during
                       emergencies to ensure that the most important data are being sent, which
                       could be accomplished by prioritizing data. Furthermore, capacity could
                       be supplemented through deployable cell sites to emergency locations.


                       Although the federal agencies have taken important steps to advance the
Various Challenges     broadband network, challenges exist that may slow its implementation.
Could Jeopardize the   Specifically, stakeholders we spoke with prioritized five challenges to
                       successfully building, operating, and maintaining a public safety
Implementation and     broadband network. These challenges include (1) ensuring
Functionality of a     interoperability, (2) creating a governance structure, (3) building a reliable
Public Safety          network, (4) designing a secure network, and (5) determining funding
                       sources. FCC, in its Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
Broadband Network      sought comment on some of these challenges, and as explained further,
                       the challenge of creating a governance structure has been addressed by
                       recent law. However, the other challenges currently remain unresolved




                       36
                        The technical design of a cellular network involves multiple hexagonal shaped cells
                       merging together to form the network.
                       37
                         One waiver jurisdiction ran simulations on 10 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum and
                       determined that when overloaded the network became unusable for video and data.




                       Page 24                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
and, if left unaddressed, could undermine the development of a public
safety broadband network.

Ensuring interoperability. To avoid a major shortcoming of the LMR
communication systems, it is essential that a public safety broadband
network be interoperable across jurisdictions and devices. DHS, in
conjunction with its SAFECOM program, developed the Interoperability
Continuum which identifies five key elements to interoperable networks—
governance, standard operating procedures, technology, training, and
usage—that waiver jurisdictions and other stakeholders discussed as
important to building an interoperable public safety broadband network,
as shown in figure 4. For example, technology is critical to interoperability
of the broadband network and most stakeholders, including public safety
associations, experts, and manufacturers believe that identifying LTE as
the technical standard was a good step towards interoperability. To
further promote interoperability, stakeholders indicated that additional
technical functionality, such as data sharing and roaming capabilities,
should be part of the technical design. If properly designed to the
technical standard, broadband devices will support interoperability
regardless of the manufacturer. Testing devices to ensure they meet the
identified standard could help eliminate devices with proprietary
applications that might otherwise limit interoperability. In its Fourth Further
Notice, FCC solicited input on the technical design of the network and
testing of devices to ensure interoperability. 38




38
  Pending legislation, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, requires
the creation of a Technical Advisory Board for First Responder Interoperability to develop
recommended minimum technical requirements to ensure a nationwide level of
interoperability.




Page 25                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Figure 4: SAFECOM Interoperability Continuum with Five Key Elements




                                       Note: This graphic was created by DHS in conjunction with its SAFECOM program and we made a
                                       minor revision to its appearance.


                                       Creating a governance structure. As stated previously, governance is a
                                       key element for interoperable networks. A governance authority can
                                       promote interoperability by bringing together federal, state, local, and
                                       emergency response representatives. Each of the waiver jurisdictions we
                                       contacted had identified a governance authority to oversee its broadband
                                       network. Jurisdictions we visited, as well as federal agencies, told us that
                                       any nationwide network should also have a nationwide governance entity
                                       to oversee it. Although several federal entities are involved with the
                                       planning of a public safety broadband network, at the time we conducted
                                       our work no entity had overall authority to make critical decisions for its


                                       Page 26                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
development, construction, and operation. According to stakeholders,
decisions on developing a common language for the network,
establishing user rights for federal agencies, and determining network
upgrades, could be managed by such an entity. Pending legislation, the
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, establishes a First
Responder Network Authority as an independent authority within NTIA
and gave it responsibility for ensuring the establishment of a nationwide,
interoperable public safety broadband network. Among other things, the
First Responder Network Authority is required to (1) ensure nationwide
standards for use and access of the network; (2) issue open, transparent,
and competitive requests for proposals to private sector entities to build,
operate, and maintain the network; (3) encourage that such requests
leverage existing commercial wireless infrastructure to speed deployment
of the network; and (4) manage and oversee the implementation and
execution of contracts and agreements with nonfederal entities to build,
operate, and maintain the network.

Building a reliable network. A public safety broadband network must be
as reliable as the current LMR systems but it will require additional
infrastructure to do so. As mentioned previously, emergency responders
consider the current LMR systems very reliable, in part because they can
continue to work in emergency situations. Any new broadband network
would need to meet similar standards but, as shown in figure 5, such a
network might require up to 10 times the number of towers as the current
system. This is because a public safety broadband network is being
designed as a cellular network, which would use a series of low powered
towers to transmit signals and reduce interference. Also, to meet robust
public safety standards, each tower must be “hardened” to ensure that it
can withstand disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. According
to waiver jurisdictions and other stakeholders, this additional
infrastructure and hardening of facilities may be financially prohibitive for
many jurisdictions, especially those in rural areas that currently use
devices operating on VHF spectrum—spectrum that is especially well
suited to rural areas because the signals can travel long distances.




Page 27               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Figure 5: Example of Infrastructure Required for Current LMR Systems and a Public
Safety Broadband Network




Note: The number of towers needed for a cellular network is dependent on the amount of spectrum
used by the network and the reliability needed.


Designing a secure network. Secure communications are important.
Designing a protected and trusted broadband network will encourage
increased usage and reliance on it. Security for a public safety network
will require authentication and access control. By defining LTE as the
technical standard for the broadband network, a significant portion of the
security architecture is predetermined because the standard governs a
certain level of security. Given the importance of this issue, FCC required
waiver jurisdictions to include some security features in their networks
and FCC’s most recent proceeding seeks input on security issues.
Furthermore, FCC’s Public Safety Advisory Committee has issued a
report making several security-related recommendations. For example, it
recommended that standardized security features be in place to support
roaming to commercial technologies. However, one expert we contacted
expressed concern that the waiver jurisdictions were not establishing


Page 28                     GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                        sufficient network security because they had not received guidance. He
                        believes this would result in waiver jurisdictions using security standards
                        applied to previous networks.

                        Determining funding sources. It is estimated that a nationwide public
                        safety broadband network could cost up to $15 billion or more to
                        construct, which does not take into account recurring operation and
                        maintenance costs. 39 As noted previously, of the 22 waiver jurisdictions, 8
                        have received federal grants to support deployment of a broadband
                        network. Some of the other waiver jurisdictions have obtained limited
                        funding from nonfederal sources, such as through issuing bonds. Several
                        of the jurisdictions we spoke with stressed that in addition to the upfront
                        construction costs, the ongoing costs associated with operating,
                        maintaining, and upgrading a public safety broadband network would
                        need to be properly funded. As previously indicated, the ECPC and
                        SAFECOM have updated grant guidance to reflect changing technologies
                        but this does not add additional funding for emergency communications.
                        Rather, it defines broadband as an allowable purpose for emergency
                        communications funding grants that may currently support the existing
                        LMR systems. Since the LMR systems will not be replaced by a public
                        safety broadband network, funding will be necessary to operate, maintain,
                        and upgrade two separate communication systems.



Limited Competition
and High
Manufacturing Costs
Increase the Price of
Handheld LMR
Devices, but Options
Exist to Reduce
Prices

                        39
                          Pending legislation, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012,
                        authorizes proceeds ($7 billion) from incentive auctions to construct the public safety
                        network and authorizes the First Responder Network Authority to assess and collect fees
                        to enable the authority to recoup its total expenses annually.




                        Page 29                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Competition for Handheld   Handheld LMR devices often cost thousands of dollars, and many
LMR Devices is Limited     stakeholders, including national public safety associations, state and local
                           public safety officials, and representatives from the telecommunications
                           industry, attribute these high prices to limited competition. Industry
                           analysts and stakeholders estimate that the approximately $4 billion U.S.
                           market for handheld LMR devices consists of one manufacturer with
                           about 75 to 80 percent market share, one or two strong competitors, and
                           several device manufacturers with smaller shares of the market. 40
                           According to industry stakeholders, competition is weak because of
                           limited entry by device manufacturers; this may be due to (1) the market’s
                           relatively small size and (2) barriers to entry that confront nonincumbent
                           device manufacturers.

                           Small size of the public safety market. The market for handheld LMR
                           devices in the United States includes only about 2 to 3 million customers,
                           or roughly 1 percent of the approximately 300 million customers of
                           commercial telecommunication devices. According to an industry
                           estimate in 2009, approximately 300,000 handheld LMR devices that are
                           P25 compliant are sold each year. Annual sales of handheld LMR devices
                           are small in part because of low turnover. For example, device
                           manufacturers told us that public safety devices are typically replaced
                           every 10 to 15 years, suggesting that less than 10 percent of handheld
                           LMR devices are replaced annually. In contrast, industry and public safety
                           sources indicate that commercial customers replace devices roughly
                           every 2 to 3 years, suggesting that about 33 to 50 percent are replaced
                           annually. Together, low device turnover and a small customer base
                           reduce the potential volume of sales by device manufacturers, which may
                           make the market unattractive to potential entrants.

                           The size of the market is reduced further by the need for manufacturers to
                           customize handheld LMR devices for individual public safety agencies.
                           Differences in spectrum allocations across jurisdictions have the effect of
                           decreasing the customer base for any single device. As previously
                           discussed, public safety agencies operate on different frequencies
                           scattered across the radio spectrum. For example, one jurisdiction may
                           need devices that operate on 700 MHz frequencies, whereas another


                           40
                            The competitiveness of a market may be determined by factors other than the number of
                           manufacturers within it—a market with only one manufacturer may be competitive if the
                           manufacturer faces a credible threat of entry by competitors because the possibility that
                           competitors will take away customers is enough to keep prices down.




                           Page 30                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
jurisdiction may need devices that operate on both 800 MHz and 450
MHz frequencies. Existing handheld LMR devices typically do not
transmit and receive signals in all public safety frequencies. As a result,
device manufacturers cannot sell a single product to customers
nationwide, and must tailor devices to the combinations of frequencies in
use by the purchasing agency.

Barriers to entry by nonincumbent manufacturers. Device
manufacturers wishing to enter the handheld LMR device market face
barriers in doing so, which further limits competition. The use of
proprietary technologies represents one barrier to entry. The inclusion of
proprietary technologies often makes LMR devices noninteroperable with
one another. This lack of interoperability makes it costly for customers to
switch the brand of their devices, since doing so requires them to replace
or modify older devices. These switching costs may continually compel
customers to buy devices from the incumbent device manufacturer,
preventing less established manufacturers from making inroads into the
market. For example, in a comment filed with FCC, one of the
jurisdictions we visited said that device manufacturers offer a proprietary
encryption feature for free or at only a nominal cost. 41 When a public
safety agency buys devices that incorporate this proprietary encryption
feature, the agency cannot switch its procurement to a different
manufacturer without undertaking costly modifications to its existing fleet
of devices. Switching costs are particularly high when a device
manufacturer has installed a communication system that is incompatible
with competitors’ devices. In this scenario, a public safety agency cannot
switch to a competitor’s handheld device without incurring the cost of new
equipment or a patching mechanism to resolve the incompatibility. Even
where devices from different manufacturers are compatible, a fear of
incompatibility may deter agencies from switching to a nonincumbent
brand. According to industry stakeholders—and as we have confirmed in
the past—devices marketed as P25 compliant often are not interoperable
in practice. 42 This lack of confidence in the P25 standard may encourage
agencies to continue buying handheld LMR devices from their current




41
  Encryption features convert data into a code to prevent unauthorized access. Although
the P25 standard permits certain encryption features in handheld LMR devices, some
device manufacturers sell encryption technology that falls outside the P25 standard.
42
     GAO-07-301.




Page 31                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                           brand, placing less established device manufacturers at a disadvantage
                           and thus discouraging competition.

                           At the same time that less established manufacturers are at a
                           disadvantage, the market leader enjoys distinct “incumbency
                           advantages.” These advantages refer to the edge that a manufacturer
                           derives from its position as incumbent, over and above whatever edge it
                           derives from the strength of its product:

                           •    According to an industry analyst, some public safety agencies are
                                reluctant to switch brands of handheld LMR devices because their
                                emergency responders are accustomed to the placement of the
                                buttons on their existing devices.

                           •    According to another industry analyst, the extensive network of
                                customer representatives that the market leader has established over
                                time presents an advantage. According to this analyst, less
                                established device manufacturers face difficulty winning contracts
                                because their networks of representatives are comparatively thin.

                           •    The well-recognized brand of the market leader also represents an
                                advantage. According to one stakeholder, some agencies mistakenly
                                believe that only the market leader is able to manufacturer devices
                                compliant with P25, and thus conduct sole-source procurements with
                                this manufacturer. Even where procurements are competitive, the
                                market leader is likely to enjoy an upper hand over its competitors;
                                according to an industry analyst, local procurement officers prefer to
                                buy handheld LMR devices from the dominant device manufacturer
                                because doing so is an uncontroversial choice in the eyes of their
                                management. 43


High Manufacturing Costs   Competition aside, handheld LMR devices are costly to manufacture, so
and Lack of Buying Power   their prices will likely exceed prices for commercial devices regardless of
Increase Device Prices     how much competition exists in the market. First, this is in large part
                           because these devices need to be reinforced for high-pressure
                           environments. Handheld LMR devices must be able to withstand


                           43
                             Further, incumbency advantages may be apparent in the standards development
                           process. Stakeholders told us that because device manufacturers participate in the
                           standards development process, the technology standards for handheld LMR devices may
                           reflect the interests of dominant device manufacturers.




                           Page 32                 GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
extremes of temperature as well physical stressors such as dust, smoke,
impact, and immersion in water. Second, they also have much more
robust performance requirements than commercial devices––including
greater transmitter and battery power––to enable communication at
greater ranges and during extended periods of operation. Third, the
devices are produced in quantities too small to realize the cost savings of
mass production. Manufacturers of commercial telecommunication
devices can keep prices lower simply because of the large quantities they
produce. For example, one industry stakeholder told us that economies of
scale begin for commercial devices when a million or more devices are
produced per manufacturing run. In contrast, LMR devices are commonly
produced in manufacturing runs of 25,000 units. Fourth, the exterior of
handheld LMR devices must be customized to the needs of emergency
responders. For example, the buttons on these devices must be large
enough to press while wearing bulky gloves.

In addition, given that the P25 standard remains incomplete and
voluntary, device manufacturers develop products based on conflicting
interpretations of the standard, resulting in incompatibilities between their
products. Stakeholders from one jurisdiction we visited said that agencies
can request add-on features––such as the ability to arrange channels
according to user preference or to scan for radio channels assigned for
particular purposes—which fall outside the P25 standard. These features
increase the degree of customization required to produce handheld LMR
devices, pushing costs upward.

Furthermore, public safety agencies may be unable to negotiate lower
prices for handheld LMR devices because they cannot exert buying
power in relationship with device manufacturers. We found that public
safety agencies are not in an advantageous position to negotiate lower
prices because they often request customized features and negotiate with
device manufacturers in isolation from one another. According to a public
safety official in one jurisdiction we contacted, each agency has unique
ordinances, purchasing mechanisms, and bidding processes for devices.
Because public safety agencies contract for handheld LMR devices in this
independent manner, they sacrifice the quantity discounts that come from
placing larger orders. Moreover, they are unlikely to know what other
agencies pay for similar devices, enabling device manufacturers to offer
different prices to different jurisdictions rather than set a single price for
the entire market. One public safety official told us that small jurisdictions
therefore pay more than larger jurisdictions for similar devices. As we
have reported in the past, agencies that require similar products can
combine their market power—and therefore obtain lower prices—by


Page 33               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                          engaging in joint procurement. 44 Therefore, wider efforts to coordinate
                          procurement at the state, regional, or national level are likely to increase
                          the buying power of public safety agencies and help bring down prices.

                          Although these factors drive up prices in the current market for handheld
                          LMR devices, industry observers said that many of these factors diminish
                          in the future market for handheld broadband devices. As described
                          earlier, FCC has mandated a commercial standard, LTE, for devices
                          operating on the new broadband networks. The use of this standard may
                          reduce the prevalence of proprietary features that inhibit interoperability.
                          In addition, the new broadband networks will operate on common 700
                          MHz spectrum across the nation, eliminating the need to customize
                          devices to the frequencies in use by individual jurisdictions. Together, the
                          adoption of a commercial standard and the use of common spectrum are
                          likely to increase the uniformity of handheld public safety devices, which
                          in turn is likely to strengthen competition and enable the cost savings that
                          come from bulk production. In addition, industry analysts and federal
                          officials told us that they expect a heightened level of competition in the
                          market for LTE devices because multiple device manufacturers are
                          expected to develop them.


Options Exist to Reduce   Options exist to reduce prices in the market for handheld LMR devices by
the Prices of Handheld    increasing competition and the bargaining power of public safety
LMR Devices               agencies. One option is to reduce barriers to entry into the market. As
                          described above, less established manufacturers may be discouraged
                          from entering the market for handheld LMR devices because of the lack
                          of interoperability between devices produced by different manufacturers.
                          Consistent implementation of the P25 standard would increase
                          interoperability between devices, enabling public safety agencies to mix
                          and match handheld LMR devices from different brands. As we have
                          reported in the past, independent testing is necessary to ensure
                          compliance with standards and interoperability among products. 45 In the
                          past several years, NIST and DHS have established a Compliance


                          44
                            GAO, Transit Rail: Potential Rail Car Cost-Saving Strategies Exist, GAO-10-730
                          (Washington, D.C.: June 30, 2010), and GAO, DOD and VA Pharmacy: Progress and
                          Remaining Challenges in Jointly Buying and Mailing Out Drugs, GAO-01-588
                          (Washington, D.C.: May 25, 2001).
                          45
                           GAO, Information Assurance: National Partnership Offers Benefits, but Faces
                          Considerable Challenges, GAO-06-392 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 24, 2006).




                          Page 34                 GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
              Assessment Program (CAP) for the P25 standard. CAP provides a
              government-led forum in which to test devices for conformance with P25
              specifications. 46 If the CAP program succeeds in increasing
              interoperability, it may reduce switching costs—that is, the expense of
              changing manufacturers—and thus may open the door to greater
              competition. Although CAP is a promising means to lower costs in this
              way, it is too soon to assess its effectiveness.

              A second option is for public safety agencies to engage in joint
              procurement to lower costs. Joint procurement of handheld LMR devices
              could increase the bargaining power of agencies as well as facilitate cost
              savings through quantity discounts. One public safety official we
              interviewed said that while local agencies seek to maintain control over
              operational matters—such as which emergency responders operate on
              which channels—they are likely to cede control in procurement matters if
              doing so lowers costs. 47 As described earlier in this report, DHS provides
              significant grant funding, technical assistance, and guidance to enhance
              the interoperability of LMR systems. For example, as described in its
              January 2012 Technical Assistance Catalog, DHS’s Office of Emergency
              Communications supports local public safety entities to ensure that LMR
              design documents meet P25 specifications and are written in a vendor-
              neutral manner. Based on its experience in emergency communications
              and its outreach to local public safety representatives, DHS is positioned
              to facilitate and incentivize opportunities for joint procurement of handheld
              LMR devices.


              Despite their interoperability limitations, traditional LMR systems have
Conclusions   provided public safety agencies with mission critical voice capabilities that
              commercial broadband systems cannot provide. These LMR systems will
              continue to be essential for public safety communications until broadband
              systems are able to meet public safety requirements, particularly for



              46
               According to DHS, equipment that is found compliant is posted to the Responder
              Knowledge Base at (last accessed, Feb. 17, 2012) https://www.rkb.us/.
              47
                An alternative approach to fostering joint procurement is through a federal supply
              schedule. In 2008, the Local Preparedness Acquisition Act, Pub. L. No. 110-248, 122 Stat.
              2316 (2008), gave state and local governments the opportunity to buy emergency
              response equipment through GSA’s Cooperative Purchasing Program. The Cooperative
              Purchasing Program may provide a model for extending joint procurement to state and
              local public safety agencies.




              Page 35                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
mission critical voice. As a result, a public safety broadband network
would likely supplement, rather than replace, current LMR systems for the
foreseeable future. Although a public safety broadband network could
enhance incident response, it would have limitations and be costly to
construct. Furthermore, since the LMR systems will still be operational for
many years, funding will be necessary to operate, maintain, and upgrade
two separate public safety communication systems.

At the time of our work, there was not an administrative entity that had the
authority to plan, oversee, or direct the public safety broadband spectrum.
As a result, overarching management decisions had not been made to
guide the development or deployment of a public safety broadband
network. According to SAFECOM’s interoperability continuum,
governance structures provide a framework for collaboration and decision
making with the goal of achieving a common objective and therefore
foster greater interoperability. In addition to ensuring interoperability, a
governance entity with proper authority could help to address the
challenges identified in this report, such as ensuring the network is secure
and reliable. Pending legislation, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, establishes an independent authority within NTIA to
manage and oversee the implementation of a nationwide, interoperable
public safety broadband network.

Handheld communication devices used by public safety officials can cost
thousands of dollars, mostly due to limited competition and high
manufacturing costs. However, public safety agencies also lack buying
power vis-à-vis the device manufacturers, which may result in the
agencies overpaying for the devices. In particular, since public safety
agencies negotiate individually with device manufacturers, they are
unlikely to know what other agencies pay for comparable devices and
they sacrifice the increased bargaining power and economies of scale
that accompany joint purchasing. Especially in rural areas, public safety
agencies may be overpaying for handheld devices. We have repeatedly
recommended joint procurement as a cost saving measure for situations
where agencies require similar products because it allows them to
combine their market power and lower their procurement costs. Given
that DHS has expertise in emergency communications and relationships
with local public safety representatives, we believe it is well-suited to
facilitate opportunities for joint procurement of handheld communication
devices.




Page 36              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                     To help ensure that public safety agencies are not overpaying for
Recommendation for   handheld communication devices, the Secretary of Homeland Security
Executive Action     should work with federal and state partners to identify and communicate
                     opportunities for joint procurement of public safety LMR devices.



                     We provided a draft of this report to Commerce, DHS, the Department of
Agency Comments      Justice, and FCC for their review and comment. In the draft report we
and Our Evaluation   sent to the agencies, we included a matter for congressional
                     consideration for ensuring that a public safety broadband network has
                     adequate direction and oversight, such as by creating a governance
                     structure that gives authority to an entity to define rules and develop a
                     plan for the overarching management of the network. As a result of
                     pending legislation that addresses this issue, we removed the matter for
                     congressional consideration from the final report.

                     Commerce provided written comments, reprinted in appendix III, in which
                     it noted that NIST and NTIA will continue to collaborate with and support
                     state, local, and tribal public safety agencies and other federal agencies
                     to help achieve effective and efficient public safety communications.

                     In commenting on the draft report, DHS concurred with our
                     recommendation that it should work with federal and state partners to
                     identify and communicate opportunities for joint procurement of public
                     safety LMR devices. While DHS noted that this recommendation will not
                     likely assist near-term efforts to implement a public safety broadband
                     network, assisting efforts for the broadband network was not the intention
                     of the recommendation. Rather, we intended this recommendation to help
                     ensure that public safety agencies do not overpay for handheld LMR
                     devices by encouraging joint procurement. DHS suggested in response to
                     our recommendation that a GSA solution may be more appropriate than
                     DHS contracting activity. Although we recognize that a GSA solution is
                     one possibility for joint procurement of handheld LMR devices, other
                     opportunities and solutions might exist. We believe DHS, based on its
                     experience in emergency communications and its outreach to state and
                     local public safety representatives, is best suited to identify such
                     opportunities and solutions for joint procurement and communicate those
                     to the public safety agencies. In its letter, DHS also noted that it continues
                     to work with federal, state, local, and private-sector partners to facilitate
                     the deployment of a nationwide public safety broadband network, and
                     stressed that establishing an effective governance structure is crucial to



                     Page 37               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
ensuring interoperability and effective use of the network. DHS’s written
comments are reprinted in appendix IV.

Commerce, DHS, the Department of Justice, and FCC provided technical
comments on the draft report, which we incorporated as appropriate.


We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Homeland
Security, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, the
Chairman of FCC, and appropriate congressional committees. In addition,
the report will be available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-2834 or goldsteinm@gao.gov. Contact points for our
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on
the last page of this report. Contact information and major contributors to
this report are listed on appendix V.




Mark L. Goldstein
Director, Physical Infrastructure




Page 38               GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
List of Requesters

The Honorable Fred Upton
Chairman
The Honorable Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
House of Representatives

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
Chairman
The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science,
and Transportation
United States Senate

The Honorable Greg Walden
Chairman
The Honorable Anna G. Eshoo
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Committee on Energy and Commerce
House of Representatives

The Honorable Edward J. Markey
House of Representatives




Page 39              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology

              This report examines current communication systems used by public
              safety and issues surrounding the development of a nationwide public
              safety broadband network. Specifically, we reviewed (1) the resources
              that have been provided for current public safety communication systems
              and their capabilities and limitations, (2) how a nationwide public safety
              broadband network is being planned and its anticipated capabilities and
              limitations, (3) the challenges to building a nationwide public safety
              broadband network, and (4) the factors that influence competition and
              cost in the development of public safety communication devices and the
              options that exist to reduce prices.

              To address all objectives, we conducted a literature review of 43 articles
              from governmental and academic sources on public safety
              communications. We reviewed these articles and recorded relevant
              evidence in workpapers, which informed our report findings. To identify
              existing studies, we conducted searches of various databases, such as
              EconLit, ProQuest, Academic OneFile, and Social SciSearch. We also
              pursued a snowball technique—following citations from relevant articles—
              to find other relevant articles and asked external researchers that we
              interviewed to recommend additional studies. These research methods
              produced 106 articles for initial review. We vetted this initial list by
              examining summary level information about each piece of literature,
              giving preference to articles that appeared in peer-reviewed journals and
              were germane to our research objectives. As a result, the 43 studies that
              we selected for our review met our criteria for relevance and quality. For
              the 13 articles related to our fourth objective—factors that affect
              competition and cost in the market for public safety communication
              devices—a GAO economist performed a secondary review and confirmed
              the relevance to our objective. Articles were then reviewed and evidence
              captured in workpapers. The workpapers were then reviewed for
              accuracy of the evidence gathered. We performed these searches and
              identified articles from June 2011 to September 2011.

              We also interviewed government officials or stakeholders in 6 of the 22
              jurisdictions that are authorized to build early public safety broadband
              networks and obtained information concerning each objective. In
              particular, we obtained information concerning their current
              communication systems and its capabilities, including any funding
              received to support the current network. We discussed their plan for
              building a public safety broadband network and the challenge they had
              faced thus far, including the role each thought the federal government
              should play in developing a network. We also discussed their views on
              the communication device market and the factors shaping the market. We


              Page 40              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                         selected jurisdictions to contact based on three criteria: (1) whether the
                                         jurisdiction received grant funds from the National Telecommunications
                                         and Information Administration (NTIA) to help build the network, (2)
                                         whether the planned network would be a statewide or regional network,
                                         and (3) geographic distribution across the nation. Table 4 lists the
                                         jurisdictions we selected based on these criteria. We selected
                                         jurisdictions based on NTIA grant funding because these jurisdictions had
                                         received the most significant federal funds dedicated towards developing
                                         a broadband network. Other jurisdictions either had not identified any
                                         funding or applied smaller grant funding that was not primarily targeted at
                                         emergency communications. We selected the size of the network,
                                         statewide or regional, to determine if challenges differed based on the
                                         size of the network and the number of entities involved. Finally, we
                                         selected sites based on the geographic region to get a geographic mix of
                                         jurisdictions from around the country. In jurisdictions that received NTIA
                                         funding, we met with government officials and emergency responders. 1 In
                                         jurisdictions that did not receive NTIA funding we met with the
                                         government officials since the network had not progressed as much.

Table 4: Jurisdictions Contacted

                                                                                                Criteria
Jurisdiction                                                     NTIA funding       Scope of network       Geographic region
Boston, Massachusetts                                            No                 Regional               East
Texas                                                            No                 Statewide              South
Iowa                                                             No                 Statewide              Midwest
San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose (BayWEB), California        Yes                Regional               West
Adams County Communications Center, Colorado                     Yes                Regional               West
Mississippi Wireless Communications Commission                   Yes                Statewide              South
                                         Source: GAO analysis.


                                         To determine the resources that have been provided for current public
                                         safety communication systems, we reviewed Federal Communications
                                         Commission (FCC) data on spectrum allocations for land mobile radio
                                         (LMR) systems. In addition, we reviewed relevant documentation and
                                         interviewed officials from offices within the Departments of Commerce
                                         (Commerce), Homeland Security (DHS), and Justice that administer grant


                                         1
                                          In two of the jurisdictions that received NTIA funding, we also met with technology
                                         vendors.




                                         Page 41                   GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
programs or provide grants that identify public safety communications as
an allowable expense. We selected these agencies to speak with
because they had more grant programs providing funds or were regularly
mentioned in interviews as providing funds for public safety
communications. We also reviewed documents from agencies, such as
the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation, which similarly
operate grant programs that identify public safety communications as an
allowable expense. The grants were identified by DHS’s SAFECOM
program as grants that can support public safety communications.

To identify the capabilities and limitations of current public safety
communication systems, we reviewed relevant congressional testimonies,
academic articles on the capabilities and limitations of LMR networks, and
relevant federal agency documents, including DHS’s National Emergency
Communications Plan. We interviewed officials from three national public
safety associations—the Association of Public-Safety Communications
Officials (APCO), National Public Safety Telecommunications Council
(NPSTC), and the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST)—as well as
researchers and consultants referred to us for their knowledge of public
safety communications and identified during the literature review process.

To determine the plans for a nationwide public safety broadband network
and its expected capabilities and limitations, we reviewed relevant
congressional testimonies and academic articles on services and
applications likely to operate on a public safety broadband network, the
challenges to building, operating, and maintaining a network. We
interviewed officials from APCO, NPSTC, and PSST, as well as
researchers and consultants who specialize in public safety
communications to understand the potential capabilities of the network. In
addition, we reviewed FCC orders and notices of proposed rulemaking
relating to broadband for public safety, as well as comments on this topic
submitted to FCC.

To determine the federal role in the public safety broadband network, we
interviewed multiple agencies involved in planning this network. Within
FCC, we interviewed officials from the Public Safety and Homeland
Security Bureau (PSHSB), the mission of which is to ensure public safety
and homeland security by advancing state-of-the-art communications that
are accessible, reliable, resilient, and secure, in coordination with public
and private partners. Within Commerce, we interviewed officials from
NTIA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), two
agencies that develop, test, and advise on broadband standards for
public safety. We also interviewed officials from the Public Safety


Page 42              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Communications Research (PSCR) program, a joint effort between NIST
and NTIA that works to research, develop, and test public safety
communication technologies. Within DHS, we interviewed officials from
the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and the Office of
Interoperability and Compatibility (OIC), two agencies that provide input
on the public safety broadband network through their participation on
interagency coordinating bodies.

To determine the technological, historical, and other factors that affect
competition in the market for public safety devices, as well as what
options exist to reduce the cost of these devices, we reviewed the
responses to FCC’s notice seeking comment on competition in public
safety communications technologies. In addition, we reviewed our prior
reports and correspondence on this topic between FCC and the House of
Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce that occurred in
June and July of 2010 and April and May of 2011. We also conducted an
economic literature review that included 13 academic articles examining
markets for communications technology and, in particular, how issues of
standards, compatibility, bundling, and price discrimination affect entry
and competition in these markets. These articles provided a historical and
theoretical context for communication technology markets, which helped
shape our findings. We asked about factors affecting the price of public
safety devices, as well as how to reduce these prices, during our
interviews with national public safety organizations, local and regional
public safety jurisdictions, and the federal agencies we contacted during
our audit work. We also interviewed two researchers specifically identified
for their knowledge of communication equipment markets based on their
congressional testimony or publication history. In addition, we interviewed
representatives from four companies that produce public safety devices
or network components, as well as two financial analysts who track the
industry.

We conducted this performance audit from March 2011 to February 2012
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 43              GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix II: Federal Grant Programs for
Emergency Communications

                                         SAFECOM, a program administered by DHS, has identified federal grant
                                         programs across nine agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture,
                                         Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security,
                                         Interior, Justice, Transportation, and the U.S. Navy that allow grant funds
                                         to fund public safety emergency communications efforts. These grants
                                         include recurring grants that support emergency communications,
                                         research grants that fund innovative and pilot projects, and past grants
                                         that may be funding ongoing projects. While the funding from these
                                         grants can support emergency communications, the total funding reported
                                         does not mean it was all spent on emergency communications. 1 We
                                         provided the amounts of the grants and the years funded when this
                                         information was available.


                                         Two agencies within Commerce—NTIA and NIST—administer grants that
Department of                            allow funds to be directed towards public safety emergency
Commerce                                 communications (see table 5).


Table 5: Commerce Grants with Emergency Communications as an Allowable Expenditure

                                                                                                                         Years funded
Program (administering agency)      Description                                                                          (if available)
Broadband Technology                The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided one-time                 Fiscal years
Opportunities Program (NTIA)        funding for improvements to broadband access, as well as, broadband                  2009-2010
                                    education, awareness, training, equipment, and support to community anchor
                                    institutions, among other purposes. This program provided $3.9 billion
                                    including more than $382 million for infrastructure projects to deploy public
                                    safety wireless broadband networks.
Measurement Science and             The program provides grants and cooperative agreements for the                       n/a
Engineering Research Grants:        development of fundamental electrical metrology and of metrology supporting
Electronics and Electrical          industry and government agencies (including law enforcement standards).
Engineering Laboratory Program
(NIST)
Measurement Science and             The program provides grants and cooperative agreements in the broad areas n/a
Engineering Research Grants:        of mathematical and computational sciences, advanced network technologies,
Information Technology Laboratory   information access, and software testing.
Grants Program (NIST)




                                         1
                                          It would be very difficult to review all grants to identify the total funding spent exclusively
                                         on emergency communications.




                                         Page 44                     GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                                                                                                        Years funded
Program (administering agency)    Description                                                                           (if available)
Measurement Science and           This program provides grants and cooperative agreements in several fields of          n/a
Engineering Research Grants:      research, including research on time and frequency standards and
Physical Measurement Laboratory   applications.
              a
Grants Program (NIST)
Public Safety Interoperable       This grant program provided one-time funding to states and territories to             Fiscal year
Communications Grant Program      enable and enhance public safety agencies’ interoperable communications               2007
                                               b
(NTIA and the Federal Emergency   capabilities. The program awarded more than $968 million to fund
Management Agency)                interoperable communications projects in the 56 states and territories.
                                       Source: DHS and Commerce.


                                       Note: Not available is referenced as n/a in the table.
                                       a
                                        Formerly the Measurement Science and Engineering Research Grants: Physics Laboratory Grant
                                       Program.
                                       b
                                        The Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant Program was created by the Deficit
                                       Reduction Act of 2005 (Pub. L. No. 109-171, §3006, 120 Stat. 4, 24 (2006)). The Digital Television
                                       Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 allowed funding for the Interoperable Emergency
                                       Communications Grant Program. (Pub. L. No. 111-96).


                                       Two agencies within DHS administer grants that allow funds to be
Department of                          directed towards public safety emergency communications—the Federal
Homeland Security                      Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Science and
                                       Technology Directorate. Another agency, OEC, has administered one
                                       such grant program. Furthermore, DHS maintains an authorized
                                       equipment list to document equipment eligible for purchase under its
                                       grant programs, including interoperable communications equipment. 2
                                       (See table 6.)




                                       2
                                        Interoperable Communications Equipment eligible for purchase under DHS’s authorized
                                       equipment list can be found at (last accessed Feb. 17, 2012)
                                       https://www.rkb.us/mel.cfm?expand=1&subtypeid=549. See Category 6 for Interoperable
                                       Communication Equipment.




                                       Page 45                       GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Table 6: DHS Grants with Emergency Communications as an Allowable Expenditure

                                                                                                                              Years funded
Program                               Description                                                                             (if available)
Assistance to Firefighters Grant      This program awards grants to fire departments to enhance their ability to              n/a
Program (FEMA)                        protect the public and fire service personnel from fire and fire-related hazards.
Border Interoperability               This was a one-time competitive demonstration project that provided funding to Fiscal year
Demonstration Project (OEC)           state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to develop and identify innovative        2010
                                      approaches to improving interoperable emergency communications along and
                                      across U.S. international borders. This grant provided $25.6 million to eligible
                                      jurisdictions.
Buffer Zone Protection Program        This program provides funding to states for improving preparedness                      Fiscal years
(FEMA)                                capabilities of jurisdictions surrounding high-priority critical infrastructure, such   2005-2010
                                      as nuclear power plants and financial institutions. This program has provided
                                      almost $333 million to eligible jurisdictions.
Citizen Corps Grant Program           This program’s mission is to bring community and government leaders                     Fiscal years
(FEMA)                                together to coordinate community-based planning efforts. This program has               2007-2011
                                      provided almost $186 million.
Emergency Management                  The grant assists state and local governments in enhancing and sustaining               n/a
Performance Grant (FEMA)              their all-hazards emergency management capabilities.
Emergency Management                  This supplemental grant provided an additional $50 million for the Emergency            Fiscal year
Performance Grants Supplemental       Management Performance Grant program.                                                   2007
(FEMA)
Emergency Operations Center Grant This grant program is intended to help building or renovating state, local, or              n/a
Program (FEMA)                    tribal Emergency Operation Centers.
Intercity Bus Security Grant Program The purpose of this program is to provide funding to protect the intercity bus           n/a
(FEMA)                               systems and people traveling on the systems from terrorism. Operators may
                                     use the funds to purchase emergency communications technology that
                                     focuses on theft prevention, real-time bus inventory, tracking, monitoring, and
                                     locating technologies.
Intercity Passenger Rail–Amtrak       The purpose this grant program is to protect critical passenger rail                    n/a
(FEMA)                                infrastructure and the traveling public from terrorism. Amtrak is the only entity
                                      eligible to apply for funding under this grant program.
Interoperable Emergency               This program provided funding to state, local and tribal entities for governance, n/a
                                                                                                                    a
Communications Grant Program          planning, and training to improve interoperable emergency communications.
(FEMA)
Long-Range Broad Agency               This program serves as an open invitation to the scientific and technical               n/a
Announcement (Science and             communities to fund pioneering research and development projects in support
Technology)                           of the nation’s security. The proposals may focus on prototypes that offer
                                      potential for advancement and improvement of homeland security missions
                                      and operations.
Metropolitan Medical Response         This program provides funding to states to support the integration of local             Fiscal years
System Grant Program (FEMA)           emergency management and medical systems into a coordinated local                       2007-2011
                                      response system. Program funds can support purchasing of pharmaceuticals
                                      and personal protective equipment, among other things. This program has
                                      provided nearly $186 million to eligible states.




                                            Page 46                     GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                                                                                                                  Years funded
Program                                Description                                                                                (if available)
Operation Stonegarden (FEMA)           This program provides funding to jurisdictions to enhance cooperation and                  Fiscal years
                                       coordination between law enforcement agencies that work to secure the U.S.                 2008-2011
                                       borders. Funds must be used to improve coordinated operational capabilities
                                       of law enforcement agencies. This program has provided more than $234
                                       million.
Port Security Grant Program (FEMA) This program’s purpose is to protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism,              n/a
                                   particularly attacks that could cause a major disruption to commerce.
Port Security Grant Program–           The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided additional                     Fiscal years
American Recovery and                  one-time funding for this program to protect critical port infrastructure from             2009
                                                 b
Reinvestment Act funding (FEMA)        terrorism.
State Homeland Security Program        This program awards grants to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 5               Fiscal years
(FEMA)                                 U.S. territories on the basis of risk and need. It provides funds to build state           2008-2011
                                       and local emergency response capabilities and implement state homeland
                                       security plans. This program has provided almost $3.1 billion to eligible
                                       entities.
Tribal Homeland Security Grant         This grant program provides funds to eligible tribes for strengthening the nation n/a
Program (FEMA)                         against terrorism.
Trucking Security Program (FEMA)       This program supports the trucking industries’ adoption and implementation of              n/a
                                       security measures, including global positioning systems tracking, and driver
                                       emergency alert notification systems, among other measures.
Urban Area Security Initiative         This program provides funding to support nonprofit organizations located                   n/a
Nonprofit Security Grant Program       within a Urban Area Security Initiative region that are at high risk of a terrorist
(FEMA)                                 attack. Allowable costs include security communications and hardening
                                       activities.
Urban Areas Security Initiative        This program focuses on enhancing regional preparedness in major                           Fiscal years
                                                          c
(FEMA)                                 metropolitan areas. It is intended to assist participating jurisdictions in                2007-2011
                                       developing integrated regional systems for prevention, protection, response,
                                       and recovery. This program has provided more than $3.8 billion.
                                            Source: DHS.


                                            Note: Not available is referenced as n/a in the table.
                                            a
                                             This program was jointly implemented by FEMA and OEC. FEMA defunded this program in fiscal
                                            year 2011 and instead incorporated the program’s emergency communications goals and activities
                                            into the Homeland Security Grant program. Each of the five programs that comprise the Homeland
                                            Security Grant Program allows the grantee to purchase interoperable communications equipment.
                                            b
                                                Pub. L. No. 111-5.
                                            c
                                             FEMA has identified 31 highest risk urban areas eligible for Urban Areas Security Initiative funding.




                                            Page 47                       GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                                          Two offices within Department of Justice, the Community Oriented
Department of Justice                     Policing Services (COPS) and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP),
                                          administer grants that allow funds to be directed towards public safety
                                          emergency communications (see table 7).

Table 7: Department of Justice Grants with Emergency Communications as an Allowable Expenditure

                                                                                                                            Years funded
Program                          Description                                                                                (if available)
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice    This grant program supports many components of the criminal justice system,                Fiscal years
Assistance Grant (OJP)           from multijurisdictional drug and gang task forces to crime prevention. In fiscal          2006-2011
                                 year 2011, the program awarded $360 million in grants for 1,400 grantees.
Interoperable Communications     Program provides funding for continued development of technologies and                     Fiscal years
Technology Grant Program         automated systems to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies                2003-2006
(COPS)                           increase interoperability. The program awarded approximately $250 million to
                                 eligible law enforcement agencies.
Law Enforcement Technology       A noncompetitive program focused on the development of technologies to enable Fiscal years
Program (COPS)                   better response, investigation, and prevention of crime. The program provided 1998-2010
                                 $1.3 billion dollars grants to 18,000 local law enforcement agencies.
National Institute of Justice    This program funded research in three areas: (1) enhancing the safety of criminal n/a
Research Grants (OJP)            justice officers, (2) advancing use of geospatial technologies in law enforcement,
                                 and (3) modeling and simulation of technologies for virtual criminal justice
                                 training.
Tribal Resources Grant Program   Program provides funding directly to federally-recognized tribal jurisdictions with        n/a
(COPS)                           established law enforcement agencies. It consists of two types of grants: (1)
                                 hiring grants and (2) equipment and training grants.

                                          Source: DHS and the Department of Justice.


                                          Note: Not available is referenced as n/a in the table.


Other Agency Programs                     Six additional federal agencies administer grants that can fund public
                                          safety emergency communications, including the Departments of
                                          Agriculture (USDA), Transportation (DOT), Health and Human Services
                                          (HHS), Education, Interior, and the U.S. Navy (see table 8).




                                          Page 48                             GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Table 8: Other Grants with Emergency Communications as an Allowable Expenditure

                                                                                                                            Years funded (if
Program                          Description                                                                                available)
Broadband Initiatives Program    This program was funded by ARRA with the purpose of awarding grants          Fiscal years 2009-
(USDA)                           and loans to facilitate broadband deployment in rural communities. This      2010
                                 one-time program provided $3.5 billion in loans and grants for 320 projects.
Communications and Networking    This program provides funding for institutions and individuals’ research and n/a
(U.S. Navy)                      development of antennas, radio communications and wireless networking
                                 relevant to naval applications.
Enhanced 911 Grant Program       This program provided grants to help 911 call centers implement next-                      n/a
(DOT)                            generation technologies, such as the receipt of video or text messages
                                 from wireless callers or other features that could improve emergency
                                 response or enhance safety. The program provided more than $40 million
                                 in grants.
Hospital Preparedness Program    The program supports the ability for hospitals and health care systems to                  n/a
(HHS)                            prepare for and respond to bioterrorism and other public health
                                 emergencies. All awardees are required to equip participating healthcare
                                 entities with communication devices.
Public Health Emergency          The purpose of this grant was to support and enhance the state and local        n/a
Response Grant Program (HHS)     public health infrastructure that is critical to public health preparedness and
                                 response in the event of an influenza pandemic. Sixty-two entities,
                                 including the 50 states, 4 municipalities, and 8 territories and freely
                                 associated states were awarded this one-time grant.
Readiness and Emergency          Program provides funds to local educational agencies to establish an                       n/a
Management for Schools           emergency management process that focuses on reviewing and
                                                                              a
(Education)                      strengthening emergency management plans.
Rural Development Community      The program provides financial assistance to provide broadband service in                  n/a
Connect Grant Program (USDA)     rural communities without broadband. The grants establish broadband
                                 service for critical facilities, such as fire or police stations, while also
                                 providing service to residents and businesses.
Rural Development Community      This program provides grants and loans to rural public safety agencies by                  n/a
Facilities Programs (USDA)       financing needed equipment, improvements, and services.
Rural Fire Assistance Outreach   This program supports increasing local firefighter safety and enhancing fire n/a
(Interior)                       protection capabilities of rural fire departments by providing basic wildland
                                 firefighting supplies and equipment.
State Health Information         This program provided funding to facilitate and expand the secure,                         n/a
Exchange Cooperative             electronic movement and use of health information among organizations
Agreement Program (HHS)          according to nationally recognized standards that promote interoperability.
                                         Source: DHS and other funding agencies.


                                         Note: Not available is referenced as n/a in the table.

                                         a
                                          The term “local educational agency” means a public board of education or other public authority
                                         legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a
                                         service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township,
                                         school district, or other political subdivision of a state, or of or for a combination of school districts or
                                         counties that is recognized in a state as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or
                                         secondary schools.




                                         Page 49                             GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix III: Comments from the
              Appendix III: Comments from the Department
              of Commerce



Department of Commerce




              Page 50           GAO-12-343 12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix III: Comments from the Department
of Commerce




Page 51           GAO-12-343 12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix IV: Comments from the
             Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
             of Homeland Security



Department of Homeland Security




             Page 52                 GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
                            Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
                            of Homeland Security




Footnote 43, cited in the
letter, became footnote
47 due to editing.




                            Page 53                 GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 54                 GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Mark L. Goldstein, (202) 512-2834 or goldsteinm@gao.gov
GAO Contact

                  In addition to the contact named above, Sally Moino, Assistant Director;
Staff             Namita Bhatia-Sabharwal; Dave Hooper; Eric Hudson; Josh Ormond;
Acknowledgments   Bonnie Pignatiello Leer; Ellen Ramachandran; Andrew Stavisky; Hai
                  Tran; and Mindi Weisenbloom made significant contributions to this
                  report.




                  Page 55                  GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
Related GAO Products
             Related GAO Products




             Emergency Communications: National Communications System Provides
             Programs for Priority Calling, but Planning for New Initiatives and
             Performance Measurement Could Be Strengthened. GAO-09-822.
             Washington, D.C.: August 28, 2009.

             Emergency Communications: Vulnerabilities Remain and Limited
             Collaboration and Monitoring Hamper Federal Efforts. GAO-09-604.
             Washington, D.C.: June 26, 2009.

             First Responders: Much Work Remains to Improve Communications
             Interoperability. GAO-07-301. Washington, D.C.: April 2, 2007.

             Homeland Security: Federal Leadership and Intergovernmental
             Cooperation Required to Achieve First Responder Interoperable
             Communications. GAO-04-740. Washington, D.C.: July 20, 2004.

             Project SAFECOM: Key Cross-Agency Emergency Communications
             Effort Requires Stronger Collaboration. GAO-04-494. Washington, D.C.:
             April 16, 2004.

             Homeland Security: Challenges in Achieving Interoperable
             Communications for First Responders. GAO-04-231T. Washington, D.C.:
             November 6, 2003.




(543283)
             Page 56                GAO-12-343 Implementation of a Public Safety Broadband Network
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