FirstNet Association Forms to Bridge Gap with Users, Vendors
April 04, 2018
Al Gillespie, past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), will serve as president. Ray Flynn, retired assistant sheriff from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and Richard Mirgon, past president of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International, will also lead the association.
“Public-safety professionals must have access to the women and men who touch every portion of the network, from the individuals developing the hardware and software platforms that will operate on the network, to those crafting policies and regulations that will shape how the network is used,” said Gillespie. “Connecting end users with the people responsible for the network's success will help ensure the FirstNet network evolves into the best possible version of itself.”
AT&T launches the base of its FirstNet public safety network
March 27, 2018
After roughly a year of partnership, AT&T's LTE-based FirstNet public safety network is starting to come alive -- the carrier has launched the service's network core nationwide. The rollout provides the foundation for a communications network devoted solely to emergency crews, with multiple priority levels and toughened security that includes around-the-clock monitoring. This doesn't represent full-fledged service, but it's now more a matter of weeks than months.
AT&T is in the midst of a "controlled introduction" that gives first responders a relatively limited set of features. Cities will still have to connect their sites to the network core to make it truly useful. The provider expects to start moving more of its clients to FirstNet sometime between April and May, however. Also, the network core launch enables the use of FirstNet-friendly devices that are already either on the market or on the way, such as the Galaxy S9 or Netgear's Nighthawk M1 mobile router. Ultimately, the hope is to have a full FirstNet experience within five years.
After years of criticism for slow-moving and costly progress, the First Responder Network Authority in March issued a task order to begin building radio access networks in all 56 states and territories using Band 14.
Band 14 is the 20-MHz spectrum the government designated specifically for FirstNet, the country’s first cellular network dedicated to public-safety use. Available only to FirstNet subscribers, Band 14 will cover at least 95 percent of the U.S. population, giving responders access to more coverage and capacity than ever.
“We hold the nationwide license to the Band 14 spectrum – we being the FirstNet Authority – and that’s been provided to AT&T as part of our 25-year contract with them to build the dedicated FirstNet network,” FirstNet CTO Jeff Bratcher explained. FirstNet operates in the 700 MHz band.
“It provides good propagation in urban and rural areas, penetrating buildings and walls easily and covering larger geographic areas with less infrastructure,” Chris Sambar, senior vice president at AT&T-FirstNet, said in an email. “Band 14 also enables high-power user equipment with the ability to radiate at levels six times that typically allowed on an LTE system. This means we can extend the range of our existing network much further than it reaches today.”
AT&T to Release RFP for Second Carrier-Integrated MCPTT Offering
March 14, 2018
AT&T signed a product agreement with Motorola Solutions for its Kodiak carrier-integrated PTT product, along with the eventual MCPTT version of the Kodiak service, said Chris Sambar, AT&T FirstNet senior vice president.
“We are in the process of developing that [MCPTT service] in conjunction with them,” Sambar said.
He said because there are likely to be multiple MCPTT solutions on the market, AT&T plans to offer at least two carrier-integrated MCPTT solutions. “The FirstNet requirement is at least two,” Sambar said. “FirstNet doesn’t want to see a single vendor lock-in, and the providers must follow MCPTT standards. … Interoperability is important.”
“FirstNet recognizes the importance of open standards and competition to deliver the best solution for public safety,” said a FirstNet spokeswoman when asked if FirstNet’s contract with AT&T requires two carrier-integrated MCPTT options. “As such, AT&T has committed to providing options for MCPTT, and we will continue to work with public safety and AT&T to ensure the FirstNet PTT solution for public safety complies with MCPTT standards and promotes appropriate competition for public safety while delivering the desired user experience.”
First Responder Network Authority task order gives AT&T green light for Band 14 deployment across statewide radio access networks in every state, territory and Washington D.C.
March 7, 2018
FirstNet’s nationwide footprint is expanding. The First Responder Network Authority has given its partner, AT&T, the green light to build out FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network. This includes deploying public safety’s dedicated spectrum – Band 14 – across statewide radio access networks in states and territories across the country.
“We are implementing the state plans and delivering on our commitment to first responders in each state and territory,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. “I want to thank all of our state and public safety partners who worked so hard with us over the last several years to ensure FirstNet will meet the needs of America’s first responders. The Network they asked for is on the way.”
With this action, the First Responder Network Authority is initiating network expansion and enhancing coverage nationwide. This will be done through the deployment of Band 14– public safety spectrum licensed nationwide to the First Responder Network Authority. As the First Responder Network Authority’s partner, only AT&T can implement Band 14 and give first responders access to its unique attributes. The buildout will increase coverage and capacity for first responders in every state and territory, including those in rural areas.
The nationwide expansion will help give public safety service when it matters most and enable them to take full advantage of FirstNet’s advanced broadband technologies for their lifesaving mission. It will also bring innovation, investments and job creation to the states and territories. Currently, FirstNet services, including priority and preemption, are available over AT&T’s existing nationwide multi-band network, allowing first responders to immediately benefit from the FirstNet solution.
“This is an exciting time for FirstNet and public safety, as we build out the statewide RANs and connect them to the dedicated FirstNet core network,” said First Responder Network Authority CTO Jeff Bratcher. “This will be the first-ever and only dedicated core infrastructure built specifically for public safety in the country. No wireless provider has done this until now.”
The FirstNet core remains on schedule for delivery. It is being built to the specifications provided by the First Responder Network Authority, which were developed through years of consultation with first responders in every state/territory and at all levels of government.
Once implemented, the dedicated FirstNet core network will be the foundation for the delivery of advanced public safety features unique to FirstNet, including:
End-to-end encryption. The FirstNet core comes with FIPS 140-2 compliant VPN solutions, radio, transport and network core encryption, and advanced physical and logical security protocols to keep all traffic on the network protected.
Round the clock security monitoring. The FirstNet core will be monitored at all times by a dedicated Security Operations Center with a dedicated team. Their sole focus will be to monitor the security of the network.
Superior reliability and availability. The FirstNet core will help enable the network’s 99.99% end-to-end service availability objective. There will be multiple geographically distributed locations nationwide that house core network elements to enable redundancy and performance.
Local control. The FirstNet core will unlock different levels of priority paired with a local control interface. This means incident commanders and eligible first responders can boost priority levels to best support specific situational responses.
Mission critical functions. The FirstNet core will deliver a range of next-generation public safety capabilities that are currently being developed based upon open standards specific for public safety. Going forward, these will include services such as Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk, enhanced location-based services and more.
AT&T is contracted to build, maintain and upgrade the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN), and the telecom giant has agreed to provide preemptive access to “primary” FirstNet subscribers—fire, EMS, law-enforcement, 911 and emergency-operations-centers users.
However, the process for determining who else is eligible to access the FirstNet system—the “extended primary” subscribers—has been more complicated, because there are so many varied uses cases for certain personnel to support a public-safety response, according to Walt Rivenbark, AT&T’s assistant vice president for public safety and FirstNet.
“We’re listening to customers,” Rivenbark said yesterday during an IWCE 2018 workshop. “We don’t think we have it all figured out.”
Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president for FirstNet, expressed a similar sentiment during an interview last week with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
“The definition of primary and extended primary was not a hard-and-fast definition in the contract—purposely—and we’re kind of learning as we go,” Sambar said. “We keep getting different [extended-primary] use cases every day.”
Under federal procurement rules, AT&T—named last March as FirstNet’s nationwide contractor—cannot get paid for its deployment work until it receives the network task order from FirstNet, said Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president for FirstNet. But the telecom giant is not letting the absence of a task order slow its Band 14 deployment efforts, he said.
“We’re not waiting—no way,” Sambar said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “We know what needs to be done, and we know that public safety needs this now. They’ve been waiting a long time, so let’s get it done quickly for them … The bottom line is that we’re getting the work done now, and we’re going to turn it up as soon as we can.
Annual Report Outlines Year of Progress Leading to Launch of FirstNet Network
Fwbruary 27, 2018
Each February – the month that Congress established FirstNet – we submit our annual report to Congress on the progress FirstNet has made to deliver the nationwide public safety broadband network.
As we look back to Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 17), I am proud to say that FirstNet is now a reality. Major steps were taken to deliver on the promise of an interoperable, wireless broadband network to help first responders save lives and protect communities across the country. This is the network that public safety fought for – a network with true priority and ruthless preemption services that will evolve as wireless technology evolves.
While there is much work to be done, the First Responder Network Authority accomplished three significant goals on its path to deploying FirstNet in FY 17: the award of the FirstNet contract; the delivery of State Plans and subsequent opt ins; and significant steps toward network operations and innovation for public safety.
In March 2017, we awarded a 25-year contract to AT&T to build, deploy, maintain, and operate FirstNet. The best value award created a unique public-private partnership that brings together the resources and public safety focus of the First Responder Network Authority, with the private sector operational and technical expertise of our partner.
Less than three months later, we delivered the FirstNet State Plans to governors in the states and territories ahead of schedule. These individual buildout plans for the radio access networks in each state or territory were a culmination of four years of outreach and consultation with public safety stakeholders. This resulted in another major accomplishment -- all 56 states and territories opting in to FirstNet by the end of the governor’s decision period.
Concurrent with the delivery, review, and approval of State Plans, the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T also set up the operational processes for the network. With the launch of FirstNet.com, future FirstNet users can find more information on FirstNet products and services. To establish a path for continual innovation for public safety, we are ramping up work at the FirstNet Innovation and Test Lab, which opened in November 2016. And finally, the FirstNet App Developer Program launched to attract public safety applications for our growing marketplace.
Moving forward, we will continue to work directly with public safety stakeholders and industry to improve and enhance new capabilities for public safety communications. To that end, the First Responder Network Authority is pleased that our Tribal Consultation Policy went into effect this January, as we continue to ensure that the voice of first responders everywhere, including federally recognized tribes, are accounted for as we deploy FirstNet nationwide.
The work for deploying and operationalizing FirstNet is only beginning. With the deployment of Band 14 spectrum and the state radio access networks (RANs), the launch of FirstNet’s core infrastructure on the horizon, and work on public safety adoption - FirstNet is set for another year of major milestones. We look forward to moving ahead together with public safety as we ensure this network meets their life-saving needs.
Click to View FirstNet Annual Report FY 2017
Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones—unveiled yesterday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—are approved FirstNet devices that operate on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet, according to officials for FirstNet and its nationwide contractor, AT&T.
“By the end of March, first-responder subscribers can use the Galaxy S9/S9+ to tap into the full power of FirstNet,” according to an AT&T press release directed to the public-safety community. “This includes access to critical capabilities, like First Priority, which includes both priority and preemption, so you can experience a reliable, highly secure and always-on connection to the information you need.”
Samsung’s Galaxy S9 has a 5.8-inch screen, while the S9+ has a 6.2-inch screen and additional camera features. Both devices are IP68 rated for water and dust resistance and will be commercially available on March 16, beginning at a single-device cost of $719.99 for the S9 and $839.99 for the S9+, although those prices can be lowered with volume discounts and/or trade-ins of existing devices.
AT&T has stated that its dedicated public-safety LTE core—enabling the full suite of first-responder-specific capabilities—will be operational by the end of March.
February 21, 2018
With FirstNet on track to complete its core network on schedule this quarter, the dedicated, nationwide first responder platform is seeing a markedly positive response from local agencies that, like the states and territories that unanimously opted in, are making their own affirmative choices.
Doug Clark, AT&T assistant vice president for FirstNet state outreach and consultation, declined to cite specific numbers but characterized participation as “enthusiastic,” with “lots” of agencies joining and “significant interest.”
One such agency is the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, a far-flung jurisdiction in eastern central Texas that’s more than half the size of Rhode Island. It had prior, positive experience with the network, having participated in a FirstNet test node at Texas A&M University, which boosted its technology deployments — then became the first agency in the state to join FirstNet. The state joined FirstNet in September.
AT&T announces Dallas, Atlanta, Waco as three of first cities to receive 5G service
February 21, 2018
Parts of Dallas, Atlanta and Waco will be among the dozen cities this year where AT&T will deploy standards-based, mobile 5G services that ultimately will provide users with low-latency connectivity and data rates of multiple gigabits per seconds, the carrier announced today.
In addition to Dallas, Atlanta and Waco, AT&T announced that it plans to identify nine other U.S. cities where the carrier will roll out mobile 5G this year, according to a company press release.
“After significantly contributing to the first phase of 5G standards, conducting multi-city trials, and literally transforming our network for the future, we’re planning to be the first carrier to deliver standards-based mobile 5G – and do it much sooner than most people thought possible,” Igal Elbaz, AT&T’s senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design, said in a prepared statement. “Our mobile 5G firsts will put our customers in the middle of it all.”
AT&T’s 5G announcement comes less than two weeks after the carrier closed a $207 million deal with FiberTower that provided the telecom giant with substantial millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectrum rights. Although the FCC ruled that AT&T could not obtain FiberTower’s 24 GHz spectrum rights in the acquisition, the deal has provided AT&T with “average holdings of more than 375 MHz in the top 100 markets” in the 39 GHz spectrum band, according to a company press release issued to announce the close of the FiberTower acquisition.
Rural deployment will not be an afterthought to urban deployment during the buildout of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), AT&T, FirstNet and state officials said during a webinar hosted by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA).
“Rural is something that won’t be waiting until last,” said Carrie Johnson, director of public-safety advocacy and tribal affairs specialist for AT&T’s FirstNet program. “It is a key priority during every stage of the buildout and beyond those first five years as well.”
For each stage of the five-year buildout, there is a requirement for the rural coverage available, which will ensure that AT&T doesn’t wait until the fifth year to begin deploying rural coverage, said David Soloos, the single point of contact (SPOC) for Oregon. “Rural will be coming online as it comes online with urban first responders.” The FirstNet request for proposals (RFP) required that 20 percent of rural coverage be built in the first year, 60 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third, 95 in the fourth and 100 percent by the fifth year.
As services for the national public safety wireless broadband network start be deployed, FirstNet contractor AT&T and others are pushing back against claims about alternative services offered by Verizon.
AT&T rival Verizon said it is working on an interconnection with the nationwide network that FirstNet awarded AT&T to build last spring. Verizon's claims are not true, according to AT&T.
"An interconnection agreement between FirstNet, AT&T and Verizon is currently not underway," an AT&T spokesman said in an email. "FirstNet is the country's only communications platform designed for all of public safety. And, while others may try to replicate what FirstNet will offer, FirstNet is the only network with spectrum dedicated in times of emergency and prepared to deliver on Congress's vision for public safety."
Since the summer, competition between FirstNet and Verizon's network plans has been heating up.
This past August, Verizon vowed to create a "core network" pulled from its national commercial 4G LTE network for first responders to use. The firm said its network covers 2.4 million square miles of the U.S. It chose not bid on the FirstNet contract because it said it didn't need the 20MHz of band 14 spectrum that came with it.
After FirstNet announced in recent weeks that all 50 states and five U.S. territories have opted into the program, Verizon reminded the states that just because they opted in didn't mean they had to commit to the plan.
Michael Maiorana, senior vice president for public sector at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said public safety users didn't have to migrate to AT&T's network and urged them to explore all options.
Verizon's approach has rankled AT&T and a few others.
In a Jan. 9 meeting of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Counsel teleconference, Kevin McGinnis, a representative of National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials said Verizon's claims it has a unique public/private partnership with FirstNet and the ability to provide oversight were "unfounded."
McGinnis also questioned Verizon's efforts to build a network comparable to FirstNet.
"Verizon has said it could build a separate core for public safety, suggesting that it could work with the [FirstNet] core. Verizon promised priority and preemption, but it did not avail itself of the opportunity to participate in the bidding … from the beginning," McGinnis said.
"The consensus of [FirstNet's Public Safety Advisory Committee] was that these claims are not provable. Public safety needs to hold these companies accountable for their claims," FirstNet's Tom Sorley, who chairs the PSAC, said during the Jan. 9 teleconference. "We need to make sure we're holding folks accountable for what they say."
"We haven't had any recent meetings regarding interoperability with AT&T," Verizon spokesman John O'Malley said in a Jan. 23 email, "but we're certainly open to discussions that would lead to the best possible nationwide network for first responders -- that should be everyone's shared goal."
FirstNet nationwide contractor AT&T today launched a new visual brand that will be associated with FirstNet services and products, according to AT&T and FirstNet officials. FirstNet will continue to use its existing logo to designate organizational activities, as opposed to products and services that subscribers can buy.
Although launched by AT&T, the new brand was developed with input from FirstNet officials, according to a FirstNet spokesperson. This black-and-white visual brand is being used “to identify products and services that are specifically approved for use on FirstNet,” according to an AT&T spokesperson.
“Whenever first responders see it, they can be confident that they are getting something just for them,” Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president for FirstNet, stated in his blog about the subject. “It’s built in collaboration with them, backed by the expertise of AT&T and approved with the advocacy of the First Responder Network Authority.”
In the blog, Sambar stated that this new black-and-white visual brand features three key elements:
•“Symbol – 3 horizontal lines represent the distinct but interconnected disciplines of public safety. They’re united in communications, symbolized by a notch in the lower right corner. This forms a speech bubble that signifies seamless communication and harmonious interoperation for first responders nationwide.
•“Wordmark – FIRSTNET. We’ve bolded “first” to show that this network is, first and foremost, a solution for first responders. The technology will never be more important than the first responders it benefits. This platform belongs to them. They fought for it, and they will continue to guide its development. Plus, they’ll always be first in line for service.
“Attribution – “Built with AT&T.” We chose each word carefully to reflect the brand’s commitment to public safety. ◦Built: This is a new effort, new solution and new network that is purpose-built for first responders. It’s the only communications platform dedicated to public safety. And there’s nothing else like it in the market.
With: Collaboration with first responders will always be our foundation.
AT&T: This is a solution built with the expertise of the nation’s largest and most reliable network provider.* So, first responders can rely on it for their technology and communications needs.”
As of Friday, governors in all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia made “opt-in” decisions to accept the FirstNet nationwide deployment plan—often with enhancements—offered by AT&T. However, these “opt-in” decisions do not obligate public-safety entities in those states to subscribe to FirstNet services; FirstNet and AT&T must make their offer compelling enough to attract public-safety adoption in the competitive market.
Northern Mariana Islands ‘opt-in’ decision gives FirstNet clean sweep of states and territories
January 19, 2018
Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph DeLeon Guerrero Torres today announced that he has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T, meaning all 56 states and territories in the U.S. have made an “opt-in” decision.
“Today, Gov. Torres made history,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “With his decision to join FirstNet, we are proud to have every U.S. state and territory on the nationwide public safety broadband network.
“Gov. Torres’s decision will help enhance emergency communications across the territory’s rural and remote areas by bringing coverage and capacity to the islands. We look forward to continuing to work with public safety in the Northern Mariana Islands to help ensure that emergency first responders will have access to the most modern and innovative tools available today.”
Standards for MCPTT, Mission-Critical Video and Data Completed
January 18, 2018
The remaining stage three work for Long Term Evolution (LTE) Release 14 on MCPTT, mission-critical video (MCVideo) and mission-critical data (MCData) was completed, and each specification set was considered 100 percent complete during the Core Network and Terminals (CT) Plenary, said Dean Prochaska, director of standards for the U.S. First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).
Work on Release 15, including interworking to legacy mobile radio technology and continued additions to MCPTT, MCVideo and MCData, is underway. The CT plenary is also working on 5G specifications.
“CT has challenging schedules and resource constraints to complete 5G, so we plan to work closely with our standards counterparts to ensure progress continues in parallel on public-safety work,” Prochaska said in a blog.
The Service and System Aspects (SA) Plenary completed stage two of 5G and officially approved several public-safety items. At the last plenary meeting, much of the discussion focused on renaming the current mission-critical specifications to remove the limiting “over LTE” wording, so existing specifications can be reused for 5G and beyond.
Renaming stage one mission-critical specifications was completed and approved at the December meeting. Other 3GPP committees are evaluating their mission-critical specifications to generalize their titles, make technical changes where required and modify other language as needed within the specifications themselves
National Public Safety Telecommunications Council
January 10, 2018
Public safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems provide mission critical communications for first responders and are considered essential to manage day-to-day agency operations and response to emergency incidents.
The Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) will be the first fully interoperable network supporting data, voice, and video for all first responders in the U.S. One of the proposed new services is Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT), which is being designed to provide some LMR-like services which may eventually allow first responders to carry a single device to access voice, video, and data. However, comparability with existing LMR systems for voice is yet to be determined, (e.g., for coverage and direct unit to unit communications).
This changing technology landscape may directly impact mission critical voice communications and the way public safety agencies interoperate with each other and with other organizations and entities.
This report, Public Safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Interoperability with LTE Mission Critical Push to Talk, is designed to articulate the issues and requirements regarding integration and interoperability between LMR systems and LTE MCPTT services. This report does not advance a notion that all public safety agencies will migrate their LMR users to the NPSBN. However, it is clear that public safety agencies will be using a mix of LMR and LTE networks in both the short and long term and will need to have effective interoperability solutions.
NPSTC authorized the creation of an LMR-LTE Integration and Interoperability Working Group in 2016 to study how first responders would communicate with the introduction of MCPTT. More than 200 participants representing public safety, industry, and academia participated in the Working Group and in the development of this report. Working Group members created use cases to examine different public safety operational scenarios involving the use of LMR and LTE PTT services. These use cases led to the creation of public safety technical requirements and a series of recommendations and conclusions.
AT&T discusses the IoT implications of FirstNet
January 9, 2018
Last year the First Responders Network Authority awarded a $6.5 billion contract to AT&T to build out a nationwide LTE network for public safety use. AT&T, which is allowed to use the 20 megahertz of 700 MHz spectrum for commercial services as well, is further investing $40 billion into the project. By the end of last month, all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories agreed to let AT&T build out FirstNet coverage — including New Hampshire, which made a last-minute reversal of an opt-out.
FirstNet has a lot of implications–for AT&T’s capital expenditure plans, for its spectrum strategy, for the first responders that will depend on the network for critical communications, and also for the booming internet of things space. In a recent blog post, Mike Zeto, general manager of AT&T Smart Cities, highlighted the role the internet of things will play, along with FirstNet, in improving how public safety officials do their work.
Zeto called out four use cases:
◾Fleet management solutions that help dispatchers improve response efficiency and come with enhanced push-to-talk communications and the ability to “determine the on-board capabilities” of vehicles.
◾Connected infrastructure like lighting sites equipped with traffic and road condition sensors that can improve routing for first responders.
◾Drone applications where, for example, a drone could assess an accident site while paramedics are en route, or firefighters managing a wildfire.
◾And connected gear like wearable cameras that enable “see-what-I-see-capabilities to support search and rescue,” as well as biometric sensors that can monitor individual safety.
“As these capabilities are brought onto the FirstNet platform,” Zeto wrote, “first responders can be confident they’ll have highly secure, reliable access to near real-time data and video feeds. This information can support response, help with situational awareness and boost collaboration. Plus, all public safety traffic on the FirstNet platform will be routed through a dedicated core with end-to-end encryption to help meet first responders’ sensitive communications needs. We’ve only just scratched the surface of possibilities.”
FirstNet Outlines 2018 Milestones
January 04, 2018
"America's first responders now have a nationwide interoperable network they can rely on 24/7/365 – like their mission," said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. "I applaud these governors for their decision and congratulate public safety for its advocacy and partnership throughout the process."
All 50 states, two U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., have now joined FirstNet, the wireless broadband network to be dedicated to public safety, and officials involved in it said Dec. 29 it has big plans for 2018. The statutory 90-day decision period for state governors to opt in or out of the FirstNet proposed Radio Access Network (RAN) buildout plan ended Dec. 28, and every state accepted the FirstNet deployment plan. Three U.S. territories have until March 12, 2018, to make their decision: American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Congress passed legislation to establish the network in 2012. Since then, the First Responder Network Authority worked closely with public safety to develop customized plans for building the network in each state and territory.
"With every state saying 'yes' to the FirstNet plan, America's first responders now have a nationwide interoperable network they can rely on 24/7/365 – like their mission," said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. "I applaud these governors for their decision and congratulate public safety for its advocacy and partnership throughout the process. With more than 50 states and territories participating in FirstNet, public safety is assured of an enduring, self-sufficient network to serve them for years to come."
The 2018 activities will include:
The First Responder Network Authority will issue work orders to deploy the RANs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the two opt-in territories in early 2018, which will give AT&T the green light to expand FirstNet's footprint and deploy Band 14 capacity and coverage throughout the country.
FirstNet will unlock a new technology marketplace for public safety, and its App store will be filling up with FirstNet-approved mobile apps that are optimized for public safety use over the first responder network.
On schedule to be operational in March, the FirstNet public safety core will provide full encryption of public safety data over FirstNet and provide end-to-end cyber security. FirstNet subscribers will have access to a dedicated Security Operations Center offering 24/7/365 support.
"While getting to this point is a major achievement for public safety, our job is not finished," Poth said. "We still have much work to do to realize the full potential of FirstNet for public safety everywhere, including rural America, and we will move full speed ahead to make it happen."
“Communication is critical when a typhoon or other disaster strikes our island,” Calvo said in a prepared statement. “FirstNet is another step toward improving our connectivity amongst first responders, which enhances their safety, as well as their ability to safeguard and respond to emergencies in our island community.”
Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio echoed this sentiment. “With our participation in this nationwide program, we’ll take a step to addressing our communications needs for first responders,” Tenorio said in a prepared statement. “Our geography here on Guam expands well beyond the popular hiking grounds in the hills and valleys of the south—it continues into miles of ocean surrounding our island.”
Charles Esteves, Guam’s administrator for the Office of Civil Defense, said he believes that FirstNet will be very helpful to first responders in the island territory.
All in for FirstNet
January 2, 2018
Although 53 states and U.S. territories have officially opted into the FirstNet wireless communications network, some are cautious about vendor AT&T and the 25-year deployment plan.
AT&T, the network provider chosen by FirstNet last March to build its nationwide public-safety broadband wireless network, said on Dec. 28 that 50 states, two territories and the District of Columbia officially opted in to the plan.
The network will be funded with $6.5 billion of government money and a planned $43 million expenditure by AT&T. The telecom giant gets access to highly desirable spectrum reserved for the system, which it can use on its commercial service when not in demand by priority users.
AT&T and FirstNet had set Dec. 28 as the deadline for states to either opt in to the federally backed network plans drawn up and distributed by FirstNet or commit to Radio Access Network (RAN) plans from other network providers.
"We are grateful to have every state say 'yes' to the FirstNet solution," said Michael Poth, FirstNet CEO. "The scale of participation by the states and territories is significant for many reasons," he said.
American Samoa, Guam and Northern Marianas Islands have until March to decide on their plans, according to FirstNet.
A few big states, such as California, Florida and New York waited until the final day to decide to go with FirstNet, while a notable state hold-out ultimately abandoned its plan to use an alternative provider's RAN.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said on Dec. 7 his state would opt out of the FirstNet plan in favor of a RAN built by Rivada Mercury, a consortium of companies assembled by Rivada Networks that includes Harris Corp, Intel, Fujitsu, Ericsson and Nokia.
Only days later, however, the governor reversed his decision. In a Dec. 28 statement, Sununu indicated he didn't want to be the only opt-out state.
"While Rivada's plan remains the better option for New Hampshire, I have determined that the additional risk associated with being the only state to opt-out creates too high a barrier for New Hampshire to continue down the opt-out path alone," Sununu said. The state had "been successful in working with First Net to remove the unreasonable fees and penalties" in the run-up to the deadline, he added.
“While California remains concerned that the proposed plan does not meet all our state’s needs, California is opting into the plan with the expectation that our concerns will be addressed throughout our partnership,” Brown stated in his letter notifying FirstNet of the “opt-in” decision.
“California looks forward to working with FirstNet to address the gaps in the proposed plan throughout the 25-year deployment and implementation period.”
Under the law that established FirstNet in 2012, governors in all 56 states and territories have the choice of making an “opt-in” decision—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan and allowing AT&T to build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state’s borders at no cost to the state—or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which would require the state to be responsible for building and maintaining the RAN for the next 25 years.
California was the fifth state to announce its “opt-in” decision today, which was the deadline for governors in all states to make their FirstNet “opt-in/opt-out” decisions. Three Pacific territories—Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands—did not receive their state plans until this month and have a March 18 deadline for their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions.
With Brown’s decision, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and two territories—Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—have made “opt-in” decisions. As a result, AT&T will build and maintain the FirstNet LTE network and gain access to the 20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum licensed to FirstNet in all of these states and territories, which includes the entire continental United States.
“Today's decision by Gov. Brown puts reliable communications and cutting-edge technology in the hands of California's first responders,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “FirstNet in California will help deliver innovation and interoperability across the Golden State's diverse landscape—including its rural, urban and coastal areas. FirstNet looks forward to our continued partnership with the state's public-safety community.”