ACT Urges States to Opt In to FirstNet

ACT, which represents apps developers, urged states today to opt into the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system. “When Congress first introduced the public safety network idea in 2012, they intended to establish a unified and interoperable wireless broadband network to support the innovative apps that serve public safety interests across the country. For this reason, the framework Congress created strongly encourages states to opt into a federal system and requires detailed and intense vetting of states that wish to opt-out of this federal system,” said Brian Scarpelli, ACT’s senior policy counsel, in a blog posting.

“We know first-hand that interoperability requirements alone do not guarantee the free flow of data between systems,” he added. “For example, many of our members continue to face impediments to data interoperability in the healthcare industry, despite the best intentions of the 2009 HITECH Act that created America’s electronic health records incentive program. Differences in hospital record systems lead to lack of choice, higher prices, disingenuous tolling of data flows, and — ultimately — an extremely unhappy user base. It is imperative that we learn from our mistakes and avoid these negative outcomes and setbacks for our first responders.

“For this reason, the App Association strongly supports states opting in to the federal public safety broadband network to best enable their first responders to protect public health and safety,” Mr. Scarpelli added. “We take issue with the positions of organizations like the Competitive Carriers Association that frame state opt-outs as an enhancement of the network, which is a serious misinterpretation of the clear path Congress has laid for first responder communications and would undermine the nationwide public safety network’s success. It is a national priority to ensure our country’s first responders can do their job as best they can, especially during our times of need. We will continue to advocate for a unified and interoperable nationwide platform to save lives and protect our country.”

Seven states have opted in so far, saying they will allow AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, to build their radio access networks (RANs) rather than attempt to contract with a vendor to build their own. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily