Safety FirstNet

FirstNet, a national, interoperable broadband communications network accessible by first responders across the country has been mandated by Congress, according to an article on Spurred by the communications difficulties between agencies and jurisdictions during 9/11, the aim for the new network is “allowing for improved connectivity and the integration of new media, such as video and text, into first responder radios,” says FCW.

Across the country, Band 14 will serve as first responders’ radio link to FirstNet, which has already secured its $6.5 billion funding and 20 MHz spectrum in the LTE band, according to the article.

There are still hurdles, however. “FirstNet must convince private carriers and telecommunications firms to help create the network through new telecom construction and the creative reuse of existing infrastructure such as long-haul transport, microwave towers and network equipment. And although $6.5 billion is real money, it is nowhere near what it will cost to build and maintain the network,” says the article.

Incentives have been offered to industry by FirstNet, such as “access to the FirstNet spectrum on a shared-use basis, a share in user feeds, and access to a rapidly transforming marketplace for broadband-powered public safety devices and applications,” according to the article.

Another challenge is allowing for increased surges of usage during emergencies, and the prioritization of first responders over vendor customers during those events. According to FCW, FirstNet will be issuing a final solicitation in December.