On May 22, 2014, sixteen national public safety related associations jointly published a detailed 115-page definition of public safety grade for broadband, “Defining Public Safety Grade Systems and Facilities, Final Report” under the banner of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) (see: PS Grade Report). The report was submitted to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) via its Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC).
In March 2016, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International initiated a formal process to create an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard for this definition, beginning with public safety grade site and facility hardening. APCO anticipates the standard to be published Spring 2018.
NPSTC is disappointed that FirstNet’s commercial partner, AT&T, has on numerous occasions stated that it is not aware of a single agreed upon definition for public safety grade. It is clearly apparent that numerous NPSTC-generated public safety broadband requirements submitted to the PSAC have significantly influenced FirstNet’s RFP for which AT&T’s contract was awarded. Public safety stakeholders have spent thousands of hours developing broadband requirements and expect a public safety grade system. Public safety and the protection of our nation deserve no less.
NPSTC continues to work on additional public safety broadband requirements as issues are identified. The public safety community expects FirstNet to listen to its needs and requirements, and ensure its partner strives to build the best public safety grade network possible. NPSTC is counting on FirstNet to hold AT&T accountable.
It is important to understand FirstNet is unlikely to replace Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems in the foreseeable future. Public safety will not replace their LMR systems until they are assured the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) meets their requirements. It serves our nation to make sure that happens.