On August 30, the National Information Sharing Consortium will be hosting a webinar with the First Responder Network Authority on the FirstNet Network Status Tool and Uplift Request Tool. These are unique tools to the FirstNet network, the only nationwide public safety communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders. Learn about the features crucial to public safety on FirstNet.
The FirstNet webinar is the thirteenth webinar in the NISC’s Mission-Focused Job Aids Webinar Series that will review tools, techniques, and standard operating procedures that NISC partners in the homeland security, emergency management, public safety, first responder, and healthcare preparedness communities use to facilitate and manage information sharing. For more information about the webinars series and the NISC, visit the NISC website at www.nisconsortium.org. To become a member of the NISC, click here to join, membership is free for all users!
FirstNet the Authority and More. With AT&T beating every due date, dealing with its coverage issues head-on, and deploying Band 14 ahead of schedule, not to mention certifying new FirstNet-approved devices, sometimes we forget FirstNet is the most important public/private partnership this nation has ever seen. When Congress formed FirstNet in 2012, it became an independent authority under the auspices of the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA), which is a part of the Department of Commerce. FirstNet the Authority, as it has become known, was responsible for putting together the FirstNet request for proposal, distributing it, and making the award. Even with the delays caused by others, it shepherded the request through to a successful conclusion and awarded the FirstNet contract to AT&T.
Since then, the focus for public safety has been on FirstNet (Built by AT&T) and not so much on FirstNet the Authority although it continues to play many important roles going forward including being the final authority on how well AT&T is doing against the deliverables established both in the RFP and in the final contract. FirstNet the Authority still has a large staff of qualified people working with federal, state, and local agencies to ensure they fully understand the importance of joining FirstNet (Built by AT&T) and how to go about it. It is the checks and balances organization that, if AT&T strays from the goals set up in the contract (which to my knowledge it has not done) FirstNet the Authority has the clout to ensure AT&T gets back on track.
It is easy to see exactly how engaged both FirstNet the Authority and its board of directors have remained throughout the process. Its last meeting was held August 13, 2018, after the APCO show. Each committee reported to the board on activity that impacts FirstNet. Fiscal highlights for 2018 include that AT&T earned a sustainability payment of $5.5 billion, and the Authority was once again given a clean bill of health by the Inspector General (IG) in his report. This makes five years in a row the IG passed the Authority with high marks. Furthermore, the finance committee reported it met the financial requirements of FirstNet while staying under budget, perhaps one of a very few government-related agencies that does stick to its budget. During 2019, it appears as though funds will be made available for independent validation and verification of the public safety network coverage, which is an important task. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) board today approved a $240 million budget for fiscal year 2019, which includes $81 million for program and administrative operations, $81 million for a new reserve fund, and $78 million for a new reinvestment in network enhancements account.
The operational budget is on an obligations basis and includes a 10% reallocation allowance, while the reinvestment budget is also on an obligations basis and will also include any additional sources of funds for FY 2019, which begins Oct. 1. The FY 2019 operations budget projects $76.5 million in expenses.
FirstNet officials stressed during a meeting, which was held via teleconference and Webex, that FirstNet operations will not be impacted if the government shuts downs due to a lapse in congressional appropriations because it does not rely on annual appropriations. FY 2019 will be the first year that FirstNet will be funded by payments from its network partner, AT&T.
FirstNet Chief Financial Officer Kim Farington said that FirstNet staff will conduct an analysis and prepare recommendations to the board for use of the reinvestment funds. FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said the target is for him to present the board a reinvestment plan during FY 2019, saying that it will be developed with input from the public safety community.
“While we have a budget, we’re evolving from a planning organization to an operating organization,” board Chairwoman Sue Swenson said, adding that discussion will continue on the best way to use the authority’s funding. Continue reading
APCO and FirstNet. The busiest booth at the APCO conference in Las Vegas was by far the FirstNet booth. There was plenty of great activity on the show floor, but the exhibit area was smaller than in previous years simply because APCO has changed over the 30-plus years I have been a member. It is now much more of a dispatch/PSAP-focused organization. To be sure, those who run and work in Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and dispatch centers are vital to the world of public safety, but APCO’s roots were broadly based on communications in the field, from the dispatch center out.
Both the exhibit floor and the comments I heard while walking it reflect this change. Yes, Motorola, Harris, JVCKenwood/EFJohnson, and Icom were still there with their booths and products but many of the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) vendor companies are no longer showing their wares at APCO. FirstNet and companies that are FirstNet partners were there in place of these vendors. In the FirstNet booth there were demonstrations from Sonim, Sierra Wireless, Cradlepoint, ESChat, RapidDeploy, and more. Time and time again those who were exhibiting told me they did not think anyone walking the floor had purchase decision-making authority.
Unlike in the past, there were only a few tower, antenna, and LMR-associated companies. Several times I was asked why the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), the 911 organization, and APCO don’t simply merge and be done with it. APCO has changed and if it was not for FirstNet as a major sponsor, I am not sure the show could survive. The focus of APCO is now more dispatch and PSAP-oriented but I was not blown away by Next-Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) vendors on the show floor either. NG911 is the next big thing to happen to public safety communications after FirstNet. In reality, the two should have been planned and executed together since both NG911 and FirstNet are based on broadband technologies. However, the feds only saw fit to dribble out a little funding to NG911 and many of the states are still skimming 911 revenue off for their own, non-911 use. Read the Entire Post Here. Continue reading
A story in August 8’s TR Daily misquoted Mike Maiorana, senior vice president–public sector for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, as saying that AT&T, Inc.’s public safety business has increased since it was awarded the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) contract. He said Verizon’s public safety business has increased since that time.
LAS VEGAS — Verizon Communications, Inc., fired back today at AT&T, Inc.’s suggestion that Verizon was “misleading public safety” in its description of Verizon’s public safety broadband offering. Verizon also suggested that AT&T is being “inconsistent” because it criticizes Verizon’s virtual public safety core while touting the benefits of virtual network functions elsewhere.
During an interview with TR Daily this morning at the APCO 2018 show here, Mike Maiorana, senior vice president–public sector for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, responded to comments that an AT&T executive made in an interview with TR Daily earlier this week.
During the earlier interview, Chris Sambar, SVP-FirstNet for AT&T, which is the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, suggested that there are “inconsistencies” concerning how Verizon sells its public safety offering, for which it has built a virtual public safety core (TR Daily, Aug. 7).
“Verizon is purposely obfuscating the difference between a virtual and a dedicated core,” he said. He said that while AT&T offers “always-on preemption,” public safety entities have told AT&T that Verizon has said its preemption involves wireless priority service (WPS), which is a voice offering, and at times has said preemption is offered today while other times has said it would be offered later this year.
“I don’t understand why they are misleading public safety,” Mr. Sambar added. “We’re being very clear about what we’re offering.”
“I think it’s disappointing that AT&T needs to disparage Verizon’s messaging in the marketplace and question our integrity in how we serve our customers,” Mr. Maiorana said today. “This is a segment that builds trust and buys services based on long-standing performance. It’s not a customer segment that buys on promises of the future or marketing rhetoric. So we have a long-standing history at Verizon of leading in this customer segment.” Continue reading
LAS VEGAS — Subscribers to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network being built by AT&T, Inc., stressed the benefits of the system during a session this afternoon at the APCO 2018 show here.
Since May, FirstNet has been used for events such as active shooters, floods, search and recovery missions, tornadoes, wildfires, and a huge boat race, said Ray Lehr, a FirstNet consultant and former public safety official for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland.
Todd Early, director of the Public Safety Communications Service in the Texas Department of Public Safety, said FirstNet resources have been deployed for five events such as wildfires and mass shootings at a school and church. The network allows personnel in his department to be “proactive” rather than “reactive,” he said, enabling it to assess what coverage is available before first responders even arrive.
“It’s sped up what’s needed in those areas quite tremendously,” he said. He emphasized the benefit of priority service for first responders. He said his agency has 12,000 to 13,000 FirstNet devices. Continue reading