IWCE Young Professionals Recognition Awarded Today

IWCE’s Young Professionals Awards Ceremony today recognized young professionals who have made a significant contribution in his or her company/industry. These individuals are executing some of our industry’s most innovative ideas, showing creativity and initiative. Winners were recognized at this special ceremony at IWCE 2017. They will also be featured on IWCE’s website and in IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

Congratulations to Jason Matthews,Vice Chair, Interoperability Committee, and Emergency Management Bureau Sergeant, Lake County Sheriff, FL, is one of the award recipients.



IWCE Presents Lifetime Achievement Award to Harlin McEwen, Honorary President, International Association of Chiefs of Police FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee

Kevin McGinnis, FirstNet, Presents Award to Harlin McEwen

Chief McEwen served on the Steering Committee of the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee (PSWAC) and as a member of the Steering Committee of the FCC Public Safety National Coordinating Committee (NCC). In November 2000, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, at their Annual Conference in San Diego honored Chief McEwen by presenting him with the first IACP Lone Star Distinguished Award in recognition of his exemplary service to the IACP for over 22 years as Chairman of the IACP Communications & Technology Committee. He is a Life Member and Honorary President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is also a Life Member of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

He is a Fellow in the Radio Club of America (RCA) and in 2006 was honored by being named the first recipient of the RCA/NPSTC Richard DeMello Award for his many contributions to public safety communications. In 2007, Chief McEwen was elected Chairman of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), a not-for-profit corporation consisting of representatives of fifteen national public safety organizations who began the effort to obtain the 700 MHz Public Safety Broadband License (PSBL) for public safety which is now held by FirstNet. Chief McEwen is currently the Chairman of the Public Safety Advisory Committee of FirstNet.

NG-911 Advocates Urge Congress to Move on Funding, But Price Tag Unclear

March 29, 2017–Several advocates of next-generation 911 service today urged Congress to provide funding for the adoption of such services by states and localities overseeing the 6,800 public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the U.S., but also indicated that the price tag for such an adoption effort remains unclear.

At a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s communications and technology subcommittee, Trey Forgety, director-government affairs and regulatory counsel for the National Emergency Number Association, said that Congress “should accelerate NG9-1-1 deployment by making a one-time investment in the capital infrastructure and transitions costs of NG9-1-1 systems at the state and local levels.”

Warning that the transition from enhanced 911 systems to NG-911 systems will be “expensive,” he said that NENA “is convinced that a one-time infusion of federal capital, coupled with an appropriate matching component at the state level, can significantly accelerate the transition, lowering the long-term costs of the transition for every level of government.” Continue reading

Cyber Issues Must Be Addressed Before DSRC Is Launched, Report Says

March 29, 2017–Before dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) networks are launched, cybersecurity must be addressed, according to a paper submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking released in December proposing to require that all new light vehicles have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology to help drivers avoid crashes (TRDaily, Dec. 13, 2016). Continue reading

Former Public Safety Leaders Emphasize Importance of NG-911

March 29, 2017–LAS VEGAS – Former public safety officials stressed the need for the public safety community to advocate for next-generation 911 (NG-911) deployment as it did for the creation of a nationwide public safety broadband network, which led to the establishment of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). During a session here yesterday afternoon at the IWCE show, two speakers who once ran large 911 centers and were key players in lobbying for legislation that authorized FirstNet, Chuck Dowd, former assistant chief of the New York Police Department, and Chris Moore, former chief of the San Jose Police Department, stressed the importance of 911 in responding to emergencies.

“It’s deserving of attention and money,” said Mr. Moore, the former chairman of the Public Safety Alliance (PSA), the organization that successfully lobbied for the reallocation of the 700 megahertz band D-block and the reservation of $7 billion in funding. “I do think it’s time.” Mr. Moore is now senior vice president of Rivada Networks LLC, which unsuccessfully led a consortium to bid for the FirstNet contract.

“Next-gen 911 is of equal importance to the public safety mission at FirstNet,” said Mr. Dowd, who was a FirstNet board member for two years and is now a public safety consultant. If legislation is necessary to facilitate NG-911 deployment, “we need to support that,” he added. Continue reading

Officials Stress Hurdles for States to Get OK for Alternative State Plans

March 29, 2017–LAS VEGAS – Officials today emphasized that states hoping to build their own radio access networks (RANs) rather than having the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) partner do so will face hurdles in getting authorization from the federal government. At a session at the IWCE show here, representatives from FirstNet, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the FCC detailed the steps that states must take to pursue alternative FirstNet plans, and the FirstNet and NTIA officials repeatedly said getting the plans blessed won’t be easy.

Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which established FirstNet, governors have 90 days after receiving the FirstNet state plan to notify the government that they want to opt out of having FirstNet’s partner build a radio access network in their states. Within 180 days after that, states must complete a request for proposals (RFP) and submit an alternative plan for approval by the FCC, which is charged with reviewing whether plans would comply with minimum technical interoperability requirements. If the FCC approves a state plan, the state has to apply to NTIA for authority to secure a spectrum capacity lease agreement with FirstNet. States seeking to build their own RANs may also apply to NTIA for grant funds to help cover those costs. Continue reading

S&T Snapshot: New Orleans Flood Experiment

Flood-related disasters present significant risks to life and property across our nation. During August 8-14, 2016, 6.9 trillion gallons of rain water flooded Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Around 60,000 homes were damaged by the deluge. The streets filled with over a foot and a half of standing flood water, making roads impassable and stranding residents without basic necessities. The flood interrupted communication lines, compromising emergency responders’ situational awareness. The American Red Cross Vice President of Disaster Services, Operations, and Logistics described the natural disaster as “the worst to hit the United States since Superstorm Sandy.”

In cases like the 2016 Baton Rouge flood, response agencies need assistance from surrounding communities and citizens—whether it is manpower, technology, status reports, or basic relief supplies. However, jurisdictions often have different communications systems, which can make it difficult to request help. This means that when a city is paralyzed by water, emergency responders have a difficult time maintaining situational awareness and gathering necessary resources. Continue reading

State Officials Stress Importance of Crafting Alternatives to FirstNet Plans

March 29, 2017–LAS VEGAS – State officials and a consultant today stressed the importance to states of issuing request for proposals (RFP) for alternative plans ahead of getting state plans from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), saying that doing so gives states something with which to compare the FirstNet offerings. During a session at the IWCE show here, representatives of Alabama and New Hampshire noted that their states issued RFPs and that New Hampshire contracted with Rivada Networks LLC to develop a draft alternative state plan. The speakers noted that the legwork by states is crucial given the tight timeframes that states face to decide whether to seek to opt out of having FirstNet’s partner build a radio access network in their states and to prepare alternative plans for federal government approval. Continue reading

FirstNet President Takes Victory Lap, Delivers Pep Talk for Hard Work Ahead

March 29, 2017–LAS VEGAS – First Responder Network Authority President TJ Kennedy today took a victory lap by recounting all the efforts that led to tomorrow’s award of a contract to a network partner, and delivered a pep talk to the public safety community concerning the tough work still ahead to realize the deployment and operation of a nationwide public safety broadband network.

The Commerce Department today announced that the 25-year contract award – it did not mention the partner, AT&T, Inc., by name – will be announced at an event at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at the agency’s headquarters. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross is scheduled to make the announcement. The Commerce venue was chosen after efforts to arrange an announcement with President Trump at the White House this week were not successful.

“This network happened because of each and every one of you,” Mr. Kennedy said in a keynote speech this morning at the IWCE show here. “We all stuck together and spoke with one voice, and we need to continue to do that.” He asked attendees to stand up and raise their right hands and vow to pledge to continue to work toward making the network a reality. Continue reading

FirstNet Partners with AT&T to Build $46.5 Billion Wireless Broadband Network for America’s First Responders

Record-breaking public-private partnership will modernize emergency communications infrastructure, saving lives, protecting communities, and creating jobs                      

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced the selection of AT&T to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to America’s first responders.  This record-breaking public-private partnership is a significant investment in the communications infrastructure that public safety desperately needs for day-to-day operations, disaster response and recovery, and securing of large events. It will also make 20 MHz of prime broadband spectrum available for private-sector development.

“Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and shows the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure.  This public-private partnership will also spur innovation and create over ten thousand new jobs in this cutting-edge sector.”

The broad terms of this 25-year agreement between FirstNet and AT&T are:

  • FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the Network buildout – FirstNet’s funding was raised from previous FCC spectrum auctions;
  • AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety;
  • Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets, valued at more than $180 billion.

The ability to communicate seamlessly across jurisdictions is critical for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) when securing large events or responding to emergencies and disasters.  In those instances, networks can become overloaded and inaccessible, limiting responders’ use of vital communication technologies, such as smartphones and applications dedicated to public safety services.

That will change with a high-speed network built specifically for the millions of public safety users in all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including those serving rural communities and tribal lands.  The Network will modernize first responders’ communications and deliver specialized features that are not available to them on wireless networks today.

“This public-private partnership is a major step forward for the public safety community as we begin building the broadband network they fought for and deserve,” said FirstNet Chair Sue Swenson.  “FirstNet and AT&T will deliver high-speed connectivity to help millions of first responders operate faster, safer, and more effectively when lives are on the line.”

This innovative public-private partnership will create more than 10,000 new jobs and ensure public safety has a voice in the growth and evolution of the Network.  In addition, FirstNet and AT&T will maximize the resources they are bringing to the partnership to create a financially self-sustaining network.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, said, “We are honored to work with FirstNet to build a network for America’s police, firefighters and EMS that is second to none.  This is an unprecedented public-private investment in infrastructure that makes America a leader and public safety a national priority.”

“This unique partnership brings together FirstNet as the voice of public safety and a global technology team with a proven track record and commitment to public safety,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “Together, FirstNet and AT&T will move with precision and urgency to deliver this much-needed infrastructure to those who need it the most: our first responders.”

FirstNet addresses a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission regarding communications used by police, fire, and emergency medical personnel.  The public safety community advocated for and endorsed passage of legislation for the wireless broadband network.  For more information about how the FirstNet Network will help public safety save lives and protect communities, please visit for resources.


About the FirstNet

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at and follow FirstNet (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.