Commerce Department asks for input on public-safety network

Congress set aside wireless frequencies and $7 billion in funding for the national public-safety network, called FirstNet, as part of the payroll tax cut extension earlier this year.

The network, which would help first-responders from different agencies communicate during emergencies, is one of the last outstanding recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report. 

FirstNet would also allow emergency responders to send video and other data in real time.

Strickling said he wants more detailed information about the technical needs of first-responders. He will also requested input on how to select the board of directors that will head FirstNet.

He said that finding a board that meets the various technical and geographic requirements will be like solving a "multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle." 

Strickling also announced on Monday that NTIA will partially suspend the funding of seven public safety communication programs that were authorized by the stimulus bill. He explained that the government should suspend the projects until it becomes more clear how they will fit into the planned national broadband network.

Strickling said he decided to pause the projects "to protect taxpayer funds and avoid investments that would need to be replaced" if they are incompatible with the nationwide network.

—Updated at 4:54 p.m.