​2015 FirstNet Articles


Priority, Preemption Issues on FirstNet Likely Limited to Secondary Users, Not Public Safety

December 16, 2015

FirstNet LTE sites should provide enough bandwidth capacity to serve the needs of public-safety users in almost all response scenarios, according to findings by a Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) task team studying the topic.

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New Hampshire Releases Statewide Public Safety LTE RFP

December 16, 2015

The state of New Hampshire’s Department of Safety released a request for proposals (RFP) for a LTE network. Proposals from vendors are due Feb. 19.  The New Hampshire schedule would award a contract before a state plan is likely to be received by FirstNet, suggesting the state might be planning to opt out of the FirstNet. However, as part of the final legal interpretations issued in October, FirstNet clarified that there is not an “early opt out” option for states.

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FirstNet Board Approves Release of RFP

December 9, 2015

The FirstNet Board today approved the Request for Proposal (RFP) to deploy the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) and directed management to take all necessary actions to release the RFP in early January. The Board’s approval advances FirstNet's Strategic Program Roadmap and moves FirstNet a step closer to establishing a public-private partnership to build, operate, and maintain the NPSBN.

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Swenson Named CEO of Novatel Wireless, Will Continue As FirstNet Chairwoman

October 29, 2015

Novatel Wireless—an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider and the inventor of MiFi mobile-hotspot technology—announces that Sue Swenson is the company’s new CEO and will continue to chair its board of directors.   Swenson plans to continue as chairwoman of FirstNet, the federal entity established to deploy and maintain the first nationwide broadband network for first responders.


President Obama Lauds FirstNet

October 27, 2015

President Obama today lauded the nationwide public safety broadband network being overseen by FirstNet.  In a Chicago speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Mr. Obama stressed the need to ensure that police have “the resources you need to get the job done.  As an example, he said that “we’re setting aside radio spectrum for first responders so that, for the first time in history, America’s police departments will share a single network.”  


FirstNet Encourages Satellite Companies to Help Build U.S. Public Safety Network

October 19, 2015

Leadership forming the U.S. FirstNet is encouraging satellite companies to step up and play a role in building the nationwide public safety network. Representatives from FirstNet said Oct. 2 in a conference call with media that in order for the network to provide ubiquitous coverage throughout the country, a mix of technologies will likely be involved, and that satellite could have a key role in enabling FirstNet to meet its mandated responsibilities.


Georgia Attends Fall 2015 SPOC Meeting in Westminster, CO

October 8, 2015

Georgia joined 51 other U.S. States and territories at the Fall 2015 Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Meeting in the beautiful city of Westminster, CO. During the general sessions, FirstNet discussed several issues of importance, including a clearer timeline of the FirstNet network implementation, data received from the latest Phase 2 data collection effort, and details about the State Plan process. During the breakout sessions, Georgia learned about strategies for engaging federal partners and key metropolitan officials. During the regional meeting with other southern states, Georgia heard about challenges encountered by neighboring states and how they overcame them. We also discussed strategies for working together as a region to prepare our Governors, governance bodies, and operational-level stakeholders for FirstNet implementation. Overall, the SPOC Meeting was well attended and very informative. Georgia continues to engage with local, state and federal partners to plan for this important public safety network in our State.



Georgia Receives FirstNet/Data Usage Surveys from 945 Public Safety Agencies (53.3% Response Rate)

September 28, 2015

FirstNet requested that all U.S. states and territories collect data from local public safety agencies regarding specific topics, and then report this information to FirstNet by September 30, 2015. Thus, GEMA/HS designed an online survey based on the specific topics requested from FirstNet. In order to distribute the survey, GEMA/HS first developed a master spreadsheet of all public safety agencies in Georgia, which included Sheriff, Police/Law Enforcement (LE), Fire, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Emergency Management Agency (EMA), and 911/Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP). GEMA/HS began distributing the online survey on August 27, 2015, with a deadline of September 18, 2015, and then distributed one-week and same-day deadline reminders for agencies that had not yet submitted a survey up to that date. For emails that “failed to send” and were returned, GEMA/HS followed up by directly calling each agency to try and obtain the correct email address. This method proved useful in helping to boost the response rate. GEMA/HS also requested for relevant associations in Georgia to email the survey link to their members, which also helped boost the response rate. In sum, GEMA/HS received 945 surveys from the 1,761 total public safety agencies that received one, a 53.7% overall response rate. This is a high response rate compared to rates obtained by other states. GEMA/HS would like to thank all agencies that participated in this project and submitted a survey!


Verizon to Begin Testing 5G Network

September 11, 2015

The nation's largest wireless carrier announced Tuesday that it will begin field-testing 5G network technology next year, aiming to have some part of its 5G network up and running for commercial use by 2017. That's way sooner than the 2020 date that most of the wireless industry had been targeting for 5G.

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All Surveys Have Been Disseminated to Georgia Public Safety Agencies: Deadline September 18

September 2, 2015

Georgia Emergency Management Agency / Homeland Security (GEMA/HS) has disseminated a survey (by email) to nearly 2,000 public safety agencies across the state of Georgia, including Sheriff, Police/Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, Emergency Management, and 911 agencies. To personalize the email and improve response rate, each email addressed the specific person’s name and agency to which it was being sent. If you work for a public safety agency in Georgia, and the head official (or designated representative) did not receive a survey, please click on this link to complete the survey online: http://goo.gl/forms/Ik2lg5aYUT The deadline is Friday, September 18. It is very important that we receive a survey from each agency, as FirstNet is using this information to help plan for the implementation of the FirstNet network in Georgia. The survey obtains information about the number of personnel in your agency, the number of vehicle devices and handheld devices used by your agency, monthly data usage, monthly costs, and more. For any questions regarding the survey, please contact Aislynn Turner at aislynn.turner@gema.ga.gov or 404-998-6939.


FirstNet Board to Consider $126M Proposed Budget that Includes RFP Release

August 12, 2015

FirstNet’s finance committee last week recommended a fiscal 2016 budget of up to $126 million that includes the release of a request for proposals to build a nationwide interoperable public safety communications network, among other priorities.  The committee approved the funding guidance Aug. 6, and the FirstNet board will consider the recommended budget during an Aug. 17 meeting, the organization said in a press release issued last week.



Georgia and FirstNet Host Initial Consultation in Atlanta

July 21, 2015

More than 60 local, state and federal public safety representatives attended an initial consultation meeting on July 21 to discuss the development of the FirstNet network in Georgia. FirstNet, a federal agency within the NTIA, is mandated by Congress to build a nationwide LTE broadband network that will provide spectrum dedicated solely to public safety. FirstNet is consulting with each state and territory to discuss states’ needs and concerns regarding the network. Georgia witnessed a strong turnout at its consultation by key stakeholders who have a direct role in the development of the network in Georgia. GEMA/HS Director Jim Butterworth provided opening remarks, and Georgia speakers included Colonel Mark McDonough from Georgia State Patrol, Chief Robert Singletary from Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs, Courtney Terwilliger and Lee Oliver from Georgia Association of EMS, and Chief Bill Westenberger from Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. Conversation remained lively and engaging throughout the day-long consultation. Participants discussed coverage needs, affordability concerns, priority and pre-emption ideas, and the need to fully include rural areas in the network, among other topics. Additionally, FirstNet helped to clarify many questions and explain its business model to sustain the network.

Participants expressed an interest in continuing the FirstNet conversations beyond consultation. Georgia looks forward to continuing to engage local stakeholders in such conversations and conveying information to FirstNet as planning efforts in the state move forward.


FirstNet Evaluating Key Indoor Location Technologies to Help Solve ‘Z-Axis’ Challenges for Public Safety

June 29, 2015

If you’ve ever tried to use a mobile device’s location-based functions in a densely built high-rise building, you know that it can often be inaccurate. The necessity for vertical location identification (height above or below ground level) is even more critical for first responders. When public safety personnel are responding to incidents in dense urban environments, the ability of incident commanders to track firefighters as they ascend in a tall building or law enforcement in below-ground subway systems would be extremely helpful to response operations


Priority, Pre-emption, and Quality of Service Tutorial: LTE Basic Concepts

May 29, 2015

Next week’s meetings of the FirstNet Board, Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), and Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program will address key developments regarding priority, pre-emption, and quality of service for the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). FirstNet and the PSCR have coordinated to develop a two-part video tutorial to explain some of the key concepts of this critical NPSBN feature.


Georgia Attends South Carolina’s Consultation with FirstNet

April 30, 2015

On Thursday, April 30, Wayne Smith and Aislynn Turner traveled to Columbia, SC to attend South Carolina’s FirstNet Consultation. Georgia’s own consultation with FirstNet will take place on July 21st in Atlanta. This trip to Columbia provided the GEMA team with ideas for hosting their July 21st consultation as well as updates about the progress of the FirstNet network. Topics discussed included the newly released draft RFP (see previous News post), users and coverage in South Carolina, and local and state agencies’ concerns about the network. The Irmo Police Department, State Transport Police, Highway Patrol, Lexington County EMS and State Emergency Management Division conducted presentations about how they currently use broadband and hope to use it in the future.


Georgia Attends FirstNet SPOC Meeting in Reston, VA

April 14-15, 2015

FirstNet hosted a two day, discussion-based meeting in Reston, VA for all U.S. states’ and territories’ single point of contact (SPOC). In total, 52 of the 56 states and territories attended. The goal of the meeting was to provide a forum for SPOCs to discuss important FirstNet issues, providing valuable feedback to FirstNet as it continues to plan for the implementation of a nationwide public safety broadband network. FirstNet presented on the second public notice process, data collection preparation (including best practices from selected states), funding updates, LTE broadband benefits for the EMS community, elements of the impending state plan, and more. Following each of these general session topics, states and territories were provided an opportunity to comment, which many did. There were also numerous breakout sessions weaved throughout the meeting, featuring topics such as “Preparing for State Consultation,” “Definition of Rural and Rural Milestones,” “Governance Lessons Learned and Best Practices,” and more. Discussion during these breakout sessions was robust. During a region-based breakout session, Georgia met with other Region IV representatives and discussed ways in which everyone could come together to continue planning for FirstNet as a region.

Overall, the SPOC meeting addressed issues that needed to be addressed and provided a great opportunity for states and territories to network with one another and share their ideas and concerns with FirstNet. FirstNet provided a well-organized meeting and was very open about their views and expectations. FirstNet hopes to host another similar meeting in the future.


Los Angeles Officials Halt Public Safety LTE Network, Potentially Clouding FirstNet’s Progress

April 2, 2015

The NTIA said it has halted payments for Los Angeles' LTE network for public-safety workers after regulators there voted to halt the construction of the network. The Los Angeles City Council voted to halt the construction of a massive 700 MHz LTE network that was intended to cover 4,000 square miles and 34,000 law enforcement, fire service and health service workers. The action could cast a cloud over FirstNet, which is charged with building a nationwide LTE network for police, firefighters and other emergency responders.  


Written Testimony of FirstNet Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson Before the Senate Commerce Committee

March 11, 2015

FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson testified before the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee today at a hearing titled "Three Years Later: Are We Any Closer To A Nationwide Public Safety Wireless Broadband Network?" In her testimony, Chair Swenson outlined both the progress and challenges in establishing a nationwide public safety broadband network. The testimony also points out the robust consultation and outreach that FirstNet has taken to coordinate with the public safety community at all levels of government to ensure the network is deployed throughout the nation, including in rural communities.


Three Years After Its Creation, It is Time for FirstNet to Begin Making Key Decisions

February 24, 2015

Three years after being established by Congress, FirstNet has not made as much deployment progress as many public-safety and industry officials had hoped. However, most of the main components appear to be in place, so 2015 should see the FirstNet board make key decisions about the much-anticipated nationwide broadband network for first responders.


Public Safety LTE Demo Network at the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships

February 17, 2015

Last week, staff from the FirstNet technical headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, attended the Colorado Public Safety Long Term Evolution (PS LTE) demonstration at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine World Ski Championships (AWSC). The AWSC attracts more than 150,000 athletes and spectators to events held in multiple locations throughout Eagle County over two weeks in the high-mountain terrain of the Beaver Creek resort and the Town of Vail.


Nationwide Broadband Network Aims to Shepherd Public Safety Into the 21st Century

February 2, 2015

When last week’s nor’easter dumped about two feet of snow and brought hurricane-force winds to the island of Nantucket, the town’s modern day communication systems didn’t stand a chance. There was only one functioning communications system. “Some of our landlines are down, cell service is spotty, the Internet and TV are down, and the only thing we have is our public-safety radio,” Police Chief William Pittman told The New York Times in an interview done over that same radio system. It’s the kind of crisis situation that a relatively young federal authority called the First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet, is mandated to address so public safety can respond more effectively in the future.


FirstNet, PSAC, PSCR to Collocate June Meetings

January 28, 2015

The Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program has announced plans to hold its annual Public Safety Broadband Stakeholder Meeting June 3–5, 2015 at the Omni Hotel in San Diego, CA. Similar to last year, the meeting will be held during the same week and in the same location as both the FirstNet Board quarterly meetings on June 2 and June 3 and the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) meeting on June 1.


DHS Eyes FirstNet to Expand Mobile Capabilities

January 21, 2015

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security believe the forthcoming national broadband network for emergencies and public safety could be a way to expand mission capabilities across its component agencies. "We're looking to leverage FirstNet [the First Responder Network Authority] and looking at what it could do," said Wolf Tombe, chief technology officer at Customs and Border Protection, during an AFCEA DC panel discussion on DHS procurement and mobile capabilities. "It has huge capability.


Another Communications Failure Emphasizes the Criticality of FirstNet

January 20, 2015

The news in DC recently has been focused on an incident on a Metro train that left one person dead and several injured after riders were stuck in a tunnel on a train that filled with smoke. While the incident is still under investigation, details are coming out about the response. Most recently, reports surfaced about the failure of the fire department’s radios during incident response, particularly those in the metro tunnel where the train was stuck.



Public Safety LTE Demo Network Planned for World Ski Championships

January 6, 2015

Colorado public-safety agencies are planning to deploy a band class 14 700 MHz LTE demonstration network during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships Feb. 2-15 in Vail and Beaver Creek, two mountain ski resorts in the state. FirstNet Colorado, public-safety agencies in Vail and Eagle County, General Dynamics Mission Systems and Crown Castle have collaborated to provide the network. First responders using the pilot network will experience how a dedicated wireless broadband data network compares with commercial networks and will have the opportunity to use next-generation LTE devices designed for local, state and federal responders


FirstNet Expected to Improve EMS Communication

January 5, 2015

FirstNet, the governing authority created to oversee the planning and build-out of the network, encourages EMS and state representatives to participate in the process. Much conversation has focused on how the network will help first responders and its potential role in major events, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the Navy Yard shooting, but it is expected that EMS will see benefits from the implementation of this network day-to-day, with better information on scene and the ability to provide electronic patient records to hospitals while in transit. Here’s how it could work.


2016 FirstNet News

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