Return of FirstNet Authority and More. Sounds like a strange title until you realize that once the contract was awarded to AT&T to build and maintain the network, those in the field deploying the FirstNet network kept up the pace while the organization’s management seemed to disappear into obscurity. However, at the FirstNet Authority board of directors’ meetings last week, the acting CEO and the board developed a plan to move forward proactively in many new and positive ways.
Ed Parkinson, acting CEO and long-time public safety supporter, has done a great job putting together this plan and the board has responded in a positive way. There have been several times when the FirstNet Authority has been slowed by circumstances not under its control. The first incidence, in late 2013, slowed progress by almost a full year. In the latest case, there was not a CEO or President to drive it forward and the board of directors was short a few members. Now we have a full board and, from what I have seen, an acting CEO with a vision of where The FirstNet Authority needs to go, how to help continue building out the network, and identifying additional pieces and parts that make sense.
Instead of The FirstNet Authority management simply watching over the contract vendor, the new plan is to include the public safety community as more of a partner in this private/public partnership. Edward Horowitz, chairman of the FirstNet board, is quoted as saying at the meeting, “As we strive to fully realize the promise of FirstNet, we are engaging with public safety to chart a path forward for the network. Using their feedback, our Roadmap will advance the network and guide our investments over the next several years and beyond.” Read the Entire Column Here . Continue reading
Drive Tests, IWCE, and Palmyra Atoll. After a two-week interruption in my scheduled Advocates, this one will hopefully serve to get back on schedule and to convey what we have been doing and why. First up is that Michael Britt and I drove to a number of areas in southern Arizona, then into California, and finally to Las Vegas and back to Phoenix. We were drive testing using the Sierra Wireless MG90 installed in my car to measure FirstNet and Verizon coverage along this route. The results and some of the maps that were generated are discussed below. Next came the IWCE Conference, once again well done. This year we decided to begin offering our “best of show” selections, also listed below.
One day after returning home, Linda and I left for Hawaii, where she stayed in Honolulu for the week I flew down to the Palmyra Atoll, about 1,000 miles and worlds away from Hawaii. This Atoll was used during WWII as a gun emplacement but is now jointly owned by the federal government and a non-profit preservation organization. The Atoll is being returned to its original state, which means eradicating thousands of coconut palm trees and other non-indigenous foliage. Our task is to review and recommend replacement of their older communications systems with a new Atoll-wide Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system, new marine and aviation radio equipment, some newer radar, and other items.
While the Palmyra Atoll is an unincorporated U.S. Territory, FirstNet will not build there. The average population on the island is about eight people, swelling to twenty-four, and falling to as low as four, depending on the time of year. I took my Sonim XP8 since I was told the Atoll is not gentle with electronics because of the rain (144 inches a year) and very high humidity. While there is no cell coverage on the Atoll, there is some WiFi and an older satellite service. Using ESChat PTT (Push-To-Talk), I was able to communicate with several people on the mainland. The XP8 came through the test of the weather and humidity perfectly. Planning a new communications system will be a real challenge but rewarding.
Read the Entire Column Here .Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence. Continue reading
Joining FirstNet. For the last year I have been receiving enquiries from readers and others about what is required to join FirstNet (Built with AT&T) and why an agency should join this network when it already has a contract with another broadband network. This is a fair question, especially when another network claims to be as good as FirstNet.
Let’s look at the reasons to join FirstNet. At the top of the list is the purpose for which the network was envisioned and then became the law of the land: to provide a nationwide broadband network dedicated solely to public safety agencies and personnel. From its inception, FirstNet was not intended to replace Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems now or well into the future. It was designed to provide interoperability between agencies with different LMR systems and resolve the issues encountered when coordinating with other agencies on different portions of the LMR spectrum. Think of FirstNet as the common network that augments all existing LMR networks used for Push-To-Talk (PTT) voice with the inclusion of data and video.
Next, unlike commercial networks, FirstNet was designed from day one to be the most secure wireless network possible. It was mandatory that it meet all the stringent requirements for the medical community as well as law enforcement and the federal government rules when it comes to obtaining or sharing data. It also needed to be as secure as possible to prevent hacking or the introduction of malware or other viruses. This security was to be designed in and built in prior to the network’s launch and those charged with building and running the network had to agree on both having a separate and private core or central heart of the network and monitoring and updating the network on a full-time basis.
Read the Entire Post Here.
Here are the articles I have selected with the help of Discovery Patterns artificial intelligence
Spreading the Word. It’s Valentine’s Day! I hope it is a good one for all of you. Last week’s Advocate drew many good comments about the lack of press coverage of FirstNet. It appears as though this lack of news stories in local media has been noticed by others and that this will be changing sooner rather than later. So, I thought perhaps I would take a crack at writing an article for local news outlets including newspapers and perhaps even as a story of interest for local TV news shows.
To write an article in a newspaper that people want to read, it must start off with a catchy headline and the first paragraph must be a real grabber to hook people so they will want to read the entire article. Then, of course, is the old adage of tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. I learned the angles of newsprint journalism over the years of writing a newsletter for Forbes on Wireless Communications where I was coached by the best in the industry, and during thirty years of publishing variously titled thirty-six-page newsletters every month. However, writing for a news outlet where readers are not experienced in anything wireless besides their own cell phones and writing for an audience that is wireless-literate are completely different things. With that said, I will now take a crack at an article for a news outlet.
Public Safety Has New Partner to Fight Crime, Save Lives
We all use cell phones. We talk, text, and send pictures and videos to others with them, check the news, and stream movies. Cell phones are a way of life, delivering three or more means for conveying information to others. Meanwhile, the public safety community, using “Land Mobile Radio,” has had only voice to communicate with those in the field. Yes, they can and do use their own or agency-supplied cell phones when needed. However, during large events and major incidents, public safety had not been guaranteed access to networks congested with citizen’s calls. Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading
Sometimes it can be a real challenge to come up with a subject I think would be of interest to my readers. This week seems particularly difficult. FirstNet is humming along ahead of its required build-out for Band 14 while Verizon continues to run expensive commercials in an effort to prove to public safety that it is the best network. We all remember how Verizon throttled fire personnel and equipment during wildland fires in California but it continues its attempts to divide the public safety community between it and FirstNet. Even so, FirstNet growth in terms of new agencies added in only the last three months, it is clear that most departments understand FirstNet is the “Interoperable Public Safety Network” dedicated to first responders while other commercial carriers are simply that: commercial broadband carriers.
The FirstNet network was not thrust upon the public safety community by network operators though some were certainly supportive of the process. Rather, it was the public safety community itself that came together to walk the Halls of Congress, battle with those in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who did not believe public safety needed the additional spectrum known as the D Block, fight off both T-Mobile and Sprint, which at one point went as far as to put up a website to try to convince others that the spectrum should be auctioned as open to commercial networks. The public safety community, with assistance from then Vice President Joe Biden who was/is a staunch believer in public safety, fought for FirstNet from day one and it became THE public safety network.
this is not to say there are no detractors today, some of which have not become part of FirstNet and may not for a while. Several departments have balked at FirstNet (Built with AT&T) having a monthly data limit specified in its contract even though FirstNet has stated publicly that it will never throttle a public safety agency. It appears corporate AT&T requires the limit but FirstNet understands that under no circumstance can public safety be throttled, especially during an incident. This is one area that needs to be clarified so it does not keep more agencies from joining. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading
FirstNet Integration. During the formation of FirstNet and then working with FirstNet to establish the goals of the network, it was always about fostering data and video services for public safety and to create a single, nationwide broadband network accessible to all public safety agencies including state and federal government agencies. After FirstNet became a reality and AT&T was awarded the contract to build and operate FirstNet for twenty-five years, forms of integration other than those included in the original FirstNet goals began being introduced and promoted.
The first deviation comes from those who have tested and approved more than thirty different vendors for providing Push-To-Talk (PTT) over public safety networks. As I have expressed before, my take is that this is too large a number of disparate vendors and applications. If they are all permitted access to the public safety broadband network, we will be reverting to the LMR non-interoperability days. Even with 3GPP standards in place and even if all thirty meet the standards, we all know that moving forward, each vendor will tweak its PTT product to gain an advantage. Regardless of the standard, this will result in chaos.
The second form of integration being discussed is from a broadband network operator that did not bid on the FirstNet RFP but feels it should now play a part so FirstNet will be interoperable across different broadband networks. This would mean sharing the FirstNet core, which is SOLELY for first responders and not part of a shared core as with the other network. Further, a second network would also bring about confusion in the pubic safety space and most likely create more interoperability issues than it would solve. I believe this because while 3GPP has standards and releases to update the standards, each network operator is still free to choose which upgrades to use within its network. Thus, it is very possible that over time there would develop yet another lack of interoperability.
The final type of integration is push-to-talk interoperability between Land Mobile Radio (LMR) networks and FirstNet (Built with AT&T). I have been asking for this for some time and now there is a committee tasked with developing a solution. I deem this as vitally important to the public safety community because if we can achieve this level of integration, anytime an outside agency is called in to assist at an incident, which happens often, the responding units can use PTT over FirstNet and the local LMR system will be able to hear them and respond to them with what is needed where. During the incident itself, there will be coordinated communications across the entire scene.
Read the Entire Post Here Continue reading
Jeff Johnson, executive director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and a former First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board member, has reiterated his criticism of Verizon Communications, Inc., which is offering a competing public safety broadband offering.
In a column for “Mission Critical Communications,” Mr. Johnson said, “The claims by Verizon and its supporters that it is not realistic or practical for all first responders to use a single network ignores the vision of Congress and all of the major national public-safety organizations when they passed the law in 2012 that required building the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network. The vision was to have one network where all public-safety entities and personnel could interoperate with each other on a nationwide basis. Public-safety leaders did not support then, or now, a patchwork of network cores fragmented across multiple providers like Verizon is now advocating.”
Mr. Johnson continued that “Verizon, and its paid supporters, are trying to dismantle that vision by spinning misleading concerns about interoperability. They’d like you to think FirstNet is being built in a silo and that those of us on the FirstNet core won’t be able to communicate with first responders that choose to stay on consumer networks. That isn’t true. FirstNet is interoperable with other Long Term Evolution (LTE) and radio networks today. AT&T, the private-sector partner responsible for delivering FirstNet, is building the platform on open industry standards. FirstNet subscribers nationwide can talk, text and communicate with customers on all other consumer wireless networks, and vice versa, benefitting from cross-network interoperability every day.”- Paul Kirby, email@example.com