What is FirstNet?
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was created under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (MCTRJCA) as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The purpose of FirstNet is to establish, operate, and maintain an interoperable public safety broadband network. To fulfill these objectives, Congress allotted $7 billion and 20 MHz of valuable radio spectrum to build the network.
Across the country, millions of law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and other public safety personnel bravely serve their communities every day. They answer the call when emergencies strike and risk their lives to secure and protect others. FirstNet is developing the first nationwide public safety broadband network to provide first responders the advanced communication and collaboration technologies they need to help them do their jobs safely and effectively.
What Will It Mean for My Jurisdiction?
Dispatch could send high-definition video, photos, and maps to responders rather than to just give an address. While en route, ambulances could transmit high volume, real-time patient information. Plans, perimeters, and other data could be transmitted real time. In short, members of the public would receive more efficient lifesaving services.
FirstNet will utilize 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) Broadband technology to provide a wide range of data capabilities and services. Mission critical voice will continue to use Land Mobile Radio (LMR) technology that public safety.
What is public safety broadband?
Public Safety Broadband is similar to the data service most people purchase through commercial carriers, but it is dedicated to public safety professionals. Many of us have participated in events where high congestion caused us to be unable to post pictures, send texts or access applications that we use on a regular basis. Sometimes we can’t even get calls to go through.
Our public safety officials experience the same lack of access as the general public and during those times are unable to access critical data such as criminal justice information, computer-aided dispatch, etc. The Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN) will be a cellular data network that uses the same technology as the commercial carriers but operates in a frequency spectrum dedicated to public safety; this assures that first responders have access to critical data and applications especially during incident response when commercial carriers are saturated and least reliable.
In addition to creating FirstNet to oversee the deployment of the NPSBN, Congress allocated an additional 10 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz D-block thus providing a full 20MHz dedicated to public safety’s mobile data needs. The technology selected for the NPSBN is Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and will be deployed in Band Class 14.
FirstNet was allocated $7B for network deployment. Similar to commercial carriers, FirstNet will fund the public safety broadband infrastructure – not local jurisdictions. State and local jurisdictions who choose to participate will be responsible for the devices and the monthly subscription fees. FirstNet plans to offer network access pricing comparable to commercial carrier networks.
Per the legislation, the Governor of Georgia will be presented with the FirstNet build out plan for Georgia and will have the opportunity to "opt in" or "opt out" of the FirstNet build out plan. If Georgia opts in, FirstNet will finance the build out of the infrastructure. If Georgia opts out, the State will decide how to build out and fund the infrastructure.
No state general revenue funds will be requested or utilized until the Governor has made the decision to opt in or opt out.
Please direct any questions or concerns to GEMA / Homeland Security, or visit http://firstnet.gov for more information.