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.”