The 9-1-1 industry tirelessly educates law makers about the dire need to update antiquated 9-1-1 systems, and continuously calls for sustainable funding to pull that off. The Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012, signed by President Obama last Wednesday, starts to answer that call. The Act provides a onetime appropriation of $115 million for 9-1-1 implementation grants.
It is expected to take as long as three years for the grant funding to become available. The funding for the grants will come from the proceeds of a TV spectrum auction. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has to design and implement that auction before any proceeds will become available. Once auction proceeds start to flow, a waterfall funding model will be used to distribute the auction funds to six different funding initiatives in addition to the 9-1-1 implementation grants. The waterfall model distributes money to initiatives in order of priority, funneling money to the first initiative until it is satisfied, and then funding the second initiative, and so on. The 9-1-1 implementation grants are ranked sixth on that list. This means five other initiatives totaling over $29 billion need to be satisfied before the 9-1-1 implementation grants are funded and assumes that the auction will generate more than $29 billion.
Funding Priorities for Auction Proceeds
|1.||Repayment of borrowing authority for public safety broadband network||$2 billion|
|2.||State and local broadband implementation grants||$135 million|
|3.||Public Safety Broadband Network build-out||$7 billion|
|4.||Public Safety Communications Research Program||$100 million|
|5.||Deficit Reduction||$20.4 billion|
|6.||9-1-1 implementation grants||$115 million|
|7.||Additional public safety research||$200 million|
The 9-1-1 implementation coordination grants will fund training, IP networks and NG9-1-1 services and will continue to fund basic and enhanced 9-1-1 implementation. Both state and local entities are eligible grant recipients under the Act and grants will require a 40% local match.
Take advantage of your opportunity to comment on the selection criteria for the 9-1-1 implementation grants. Proposed regulations on the selection criteria will be published within the next few months by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Act requires a public comment period prior to the release of final regulations.
Congress continues to crack down on the diversion of 9-1-1 funds by deeming any entity that diverted 9-1-1 funds for other purposes ineligible for grant funding. Additionally, Congress directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on 9-1-1 fund diversion. This study will be separate from the FCC report that provides Congress with self-reported diversion activity annually.
The Act puts into motion a number of proceedings and studies that will go far to advance 9-1-1 into the next generation including; a proceeding on 9-1-1 location capabilities of multiline telephone systems, a proceeding to create a specialized Do-Not-Call registry for public safety answering points (PSAPs), a report on the legal and statutory framework needed to support the deployment of NG9-1-1 and a report on detailed costs for NG9-1-1 requirements. Additionally, the Act extends immunity from liability to NG9-1-1 service providers and PSAPs.
The passage of this Act is a testament to the hard work of the 9-1-1 industry to educate lawmakers about the importance of 9-1-1 services and the critical funding needed to upgrade and maintain the high level of 9-1-1 service that Americans expect.