Courtesy TRDaily: NATOA Panelists–Existing Infrastructure Key to FirstNet Deployment

One of the keys to successfully building a ubiquitous, nationwide public safety broadband network for first responders, especially in rural areas, is utilizing existing state and local infrastructure, said panelists  during a National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) webinar.

Speakers during today’s discussion, held to update NATOA members on progress made so far by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in deploying an interoperable public safety wireless network, said the biggest challenge is to build an affordable and efficient network that works for every first responder in the country.

Jessica Zufolo, director of rural infrastructure deployment and strategy for FirstNet, said that the organization is very focused on establishing partnerships to build the network on a more efficient level and intends to cut costs and ultimately avoid overbuilding.  This involves continuous consultation with local and state governments, she said.

“We want to make sure that everything that is available in both urban and rural areas are fully utilized and leveraged,” she said, adding that FirstNet will be working closely with other federal agencies such as the USDA to make sure that all facilities and entities are being considered.

Larry Fraser, general manager, BayRICS Authority, and NATOA representative on the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), also emphasized the need to use existing state and local infrastructure.  He said that so much of the success of the network “depends on shared knowledge, because this is such a massive, massive undertaking.”

“We know it’s going to be a challenge, but creative thinking and trying to bring different projects and programs together can only help,” he said.

Panelists, including Sean Stokes, principal with Baller Herbst Law Group, also discussed the importance of establishing and maintaining a close relationship with state-level FirstNet contacts.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get to know your state contact,” Mr. Stokes said. -Carrie DeLeon,