FirstNet: Reflecting on One Year of Initial Consultation Meetings and Planning for the Next

July 29, 2015
FirstNet has met with 43 states and territories and with more than 2,600 public safety representatives and government officials from state, territory, local, federal, and tribal agencies operating in metropolitan and rural locations in their state or territory to discuss in detail their specific requirements for the network.

By Dave Buchanan, FirstNet Director of State Consultation

One year ago today, FirstNet held the first initial state consultation meeting in Maryland. While the meeting in Annapolis was not the beginning of FirstNet’s consultation process, it did mark a significant milestone along our Strategic Program Roadmap: to formally launch initial consultation meetings in all states and territories for the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN).

Since then, we have met with 43 states and territories – including our meeting in California this week – to discuss in detail their specific requirements for the network. These meetings have been attended by more than 2,600 public safety representatives and government officials from state, territory, local, federal, and tribal agencies operating in metropolitan and rural locations in their state or territory.

FirstNet has gained a better understanding about what it will take to deploy the network in the states and territories from these meetings. We have learned a great deal about the use of mobile broadband, coverage challenges, and emergency communications usage in each state and territory. We have also heard from small rural agencies and large urban departments about the benefits FirstNet will bring to public safety, including improved situational awareness at planned events and emergency response incidents, more efficient and effective response operations, and improved first responder safety.

This information, and the other information gathered during the initial consultation meetings, will help inform FirstNet’s Request for Proposals and the development of each state plan. The states’ and territories’ feedback has also helped us evolve and improve the consultation process over the past year to ensure the meetings address the unique priorities of each state and territory.

Moving forward, we are on track to complete initial consultation meetings in all 56 states and territories by the end of Fall 2015. But as we have said many times before, consultation is not a single event, nor does it end with this meeting. State consultation is an iterative, ongoing collaboration between FirstNet and regional, state/territory, local, and tribal stakeholders.

After completing the initial meetings, FirstNet intends to follow up with each state and territory beginning in 2016 to verify the results from the data collection effort and to engage with them on additional topics, such as priority and pre-emption, security, and training according to each state and territory’s needs.

FirstNet would like to recognize the state single points of contact (SPOCs) for their leadership on these initial consultation meetings. These meetings require a tremendous amount of planning and coordination to execute, and we thank the SPOCs for the impressive work they’ve done to make these initial consultation meetings successful. FirstNet would also like to recognize the public safety representatives who have attended the meetings for providing us with their input and feedback, as well as asking good questions about the network.

We look forward to continuing our consultations with each state and territory to plan, design, and ultimately deploy the NPSBN.


You may view and download the map with photos of consultations below and on the FirstNet Flickr. Additionally, each state consultation group image may be viewed and downloaded on this page.

FirstNet to Hold August 27 Industry Day

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced today that it will hold a second industry day Aug. 27, from 1-4 p.m. at FirstNet’s Reston, Va., headquarters. “We are committed to sharing as much information as possible on our acquisition approach to ensure industry and public safety are prepared for the upcoming Request for Proposals later this year, and this Industry Day is another opportunity for us to do so,” said acting FirstNet Executive Director TJ Kennedy.

FirstNet said it plans “to provide an update on the responses to the Special Notice and draft RFP documents. Additionally, FirstNet will provide updates on the public notice process, review its analysis of the more than 660 questions received regarding the Special Notice and draft RFP documents, and provide opportunities for onsite and webinar participants to ask questions.”


LightSquared Filing Observes GPS Declines

LightSquared today submitted an analysis of the GPS market that observes declines in the sector. “We explained that company research shows customers today are overwhelmingly using smartphones for general location and navigation cases, and a result, the number of personal navigation devices (PND) being sold is declining rapidly and those in actual use are also shrinking,” LightSquared said in an ex parte filing in IB docket 12-340 that reported on a meeting with FCC officials.

The market analysis also said that “[t]he market for high precision agriculture is down due to low commodity prices and poor weather conditions,” while “[t]he market for high precision construction GPS is growing but prices are expected to fall.” The filing also said that “companies increasingly are using other solutions to compensate for GPS limitations, including inertial measure units (IMUs) and real time kinetics (RTK).” “These slides are the precursor to a lengthy report on the GPS market that LightSquared intends to deliver to the FCC and other agencies after Labor Day. We want facts to replace anecdotes as a basis for decisions about receiver design and network deployment,” LightSquared spokeswoman Ashley Durmer told TRDaily.

More PSAPs Ready for Text-to-9-1-1

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has released an updated version of its registry for public safety answering points (PSAPs) that say they are ready to receive text-to-911 service. It lists about 360 PSAPs or groups of PSAPs.


FCC Clarifies 9-1-1 Reliability Rules

The FCC released an order on reconsideration that addresses a motion for clarification or, in the alternative, petition for partial reconsideration of an order that the FCC adopted in 2013 aimed at ensuring that 911 service remains available during and after disasters (TRDaily, Dec. 12, 2013).

In its filing (TRDaily, Feb. 27, 2014), Intrado, Inc., asked the FCC “to confirm that Section 12.4 (b) of the agency’s rules permits Covered 911 Service Providers to take reasonable alternative measures with respect to auditing, tagging, and eliminating single points of failure with respect to Critical 911 Circuits and auditing network Monitoring Links. In the alternative, Intrado respectfully requests the Commission reconsider the Report and Order and amend Subsections 12.4 (c)(1) and (3) to provide flexibility to enable Providers to take reasonable alternative measures in lieu of auditing, tagging, and eliminating single points of failure with respect to Critical 911 Circuits and auditing network Monitoring Links.” Continue reading

Andy Seybold’s Public Safety Advocate, July 31, 2015

First off this week, I recently had an opportunity to have a conversation with the acting CTO of FirstNet (yes, another “acting” deserving of being appointed to the position). We discussed the NIST initiative to spend research dollars on location services, including inbuilding and 3-Dimensional location (including, for instance, exactly what floor of a building a fire fighter is on). I had expressed concern that NIST was duplicating work being done in the industry. Jeff explained that NIST was not trying to duplicate work being done in private industry and in fact will be funding some of that work. He also explained that FirstNet’s location requirements exceed the new 9-1-1 location standards mandated by the FCC. We both agreed that a number of companies are close to providing what FirstNet needs and hope the technology will be the same across both FirstNet and the commercial operators.

I was pleased to hear that NIST was not planning to spend a lot of money working toward the same goal as a number of commercial companies and that some of the NIST money could be made available to these companies to speed up their research and development efforts.

This past Monday July 27th comments for the FirstNet draft RFP were due. My own comments were 30 pages long and I assume many others will be even longer. The goal, after all, is to assist FirstNet in attracting as many qualified bidders and partnership bidders as possible so it will have a choice of different companies with different ways to provide what is required. We should not lose sight of what is required. FirstNet is charged with building and operating a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) yet it was funded by Congress with only $7 Billion from spectrum auctions.

As a comparison, T-Mobile today announced it will spend $4+ Billion in 2015 on LTE network enhancements to its existing LTE network that has already cost well over $20 billion to deploy. So FirstNet finding at least one partner is critical to its success. I don’t believe anyone looking at the comments that were filed will get any indication of which companies might or might not be considering bidding. Like in the earlier spectrum auctions, the major commercial operators will use stand-ins or other LLCs or companies to do the bidding so I do not think we will know who will respond to the RFP until the responses are actually due.

One of the critical issues for me is how soon after the RFP is released will the 600-MHz auctions take place and how much spectrum will be made available. The maximum spectrum available if channels 32-52 (with the exception of channel 37 that is used for radio telescopes) were put into the auction would mean a pool of 174 MHz of spectrum. I do not expect we will see all of that become available this time around but perhaps 60-80 MHz of it. So the question is, “Do I (as a major company) commit to spending upwards of $30 Billion with FirstNet to share its spectrum on a secondary basis or do I wait until the 600-MHz auction to see what I can buy with that amount of money?” We will find out the answer to this question in 5-10 months. Have a great weekend Andy

Wireless Carriers and Text Messaging Providers Should Check PSAP Registry for Text-to-911 …JD Supra via Google Alerts Jul 31 13:50 In the notice, the FCC said that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (the Bureau) will no longer announce updates to the Text-to-911 …

CCA urges FirstNet to take ‘granular’ approach to broadband networkBenton Foundation via Google Alerts Jul 31 13:45 … to speed deployment of the nation’s first public safety broadband network. …

FCC to Host Workshop Promoting Wider Use of EASTV Technology via Google Alerts Jul 31 01:45 WASHINGTON The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will host a workshop … Continue reading

FCC Daily Digest, July 29, 2015

Released:  07/29/2015.  PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU ANNOUNCES UPDATE TO PSAP TEXT-TO-911 READINESS AND CERTIFICATION REGISTRY. (DA No.  15-870). (Dkt No 11-153 10-255 )  Future Text-to-911 Registry Updates Will Be Available On-Line.  PSHSB . Contact:  Tim May at (202) 418-1463, email:

By this Public Notice, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (Bureau) announces the latest update to the Commission’s Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Text-to-911 Readiness and Certification Registry (Text-to-911 Registry) listing additional PSAPs that are ready to receive text-to-911 messages. The Text-to-911 Registry provides notice to Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers and other providers of interconnected text messaging services (collectively, “covered text providers”) of the effective readiness date of those PSAPs for which the Bureau has received the updated information. Pursuant to the Commission’s text-to-911 rules, covered text providers must begin routing 911 text messages to requesting PSAPs within six months of the date of notification.

Note that the FCC also indicated that going forward, it will no longer issue such update Public Notices re the Text-to-911 Registry.  The Registry, however, will be available on line.


Statement of FCC Chairman Wheeler before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Committee on Energy and Commerce, U.S. House of Representatives.

Statement of FCC Chairman Wheeler:  On July 28, Chairman Wheeler spoke at the hearing on “Continued Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission” to discuss progress on a number of key initiatives. On page 7 of the testimony, Chairman Wheeler noted “concern with the lack of coordination among 911 call centers, an issue I raised last time I was before this panel.”

He said, “There are well over 6,000 public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the United States. They do yeoman’s work to protect Americans and should be applauded. But the fact remains that absent Federal guidance they remain independent and autonomous without any need to either keep up with technology or coordinate on a state-wide basis.

“Over 450 times a minute, Americans dial 911. The vast majority of those calls are placed from mobile phones. The problem is that the physics of mobile signals don’t obey the boundaries of the PSAPs. A woman in Georgia trapped in her car drowned while on the phone with the 911 operator just because the call was picked up by the nearest cell tower and routed to a PSAP in a neighboring jurisdiction. We cannot allow that to happen.

“In the 1999 law that established 911 as the national emergency number, Congress asked PSAPs to work together on a state-wide basis to coordinate activities. To the best of our information, not one single state has accepted that invitation. Almost 20 years have passed since the 911 Act was passed, during which time wireless has become the predominant vehicle for calling 911. We at the Commission have taken this as far as the authority granted us. Only the Congress can take the next steps to save lives. As we approach hurricane season, I hope Congress will treat this issue with the urgency that it deserves.”


House Passes SWIC Bill

The House today passed by voice vote legislation (HR 2206) to require recipients of State Homeland Security Grant Program funding to show they have a statewide interoperability coordinator or someone who performs the same functions. The State Wide Interoperable Communications Enhancement Act, as amended, was approved in May by the House Homeland Security Committee (TRDaily, May 20). The measure was introduced by Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D., N.J.), ranking member of the emergency preparedness subcommittee.




PSAP Architecture Task Force Delaying Action on Final Report

The FCC’s Task Force on Optimal PSAP Architecture (TFOPA) will likely postpone the vote on its final report beyond its Sept. 29 meeting, at which it was slated to act, but it will aim to finalize its report before year-end. During today’s TFOPA meeting, David Simpson, chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, said, “We are at an inflection point where the changes in technology happening around us really should galvanize us to action, making sure that we don’t wind up with a relic of a 911 system.”

The task force heard updates from its three working groups on optimal resource allocation and budgeting for PSAPs, on optimal approaches to next-generation 911 architecture implementation, and on cybersecurity and next-generation systems.

The chair of the cybersecurity and next-generation systems group, Jay English, who is director-communications center and 911 services at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, said the only way to ensure cybersecurity is to “segregate” the PSAP network, meaning that PSAPs could “never have a next-generation network.”

“We will not build an indestructible or impenetrable network,” Mr. English said.  The group has a draft document in progress, he said, addressing “what is the cyber risk and how do we handle it.” Continue reading