Sens. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.) wrote First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth today asking him for more information on the network. “While we fully understand that the opt-in/opt-out decision rests solely with the state of Vermont, we have heard concerns from some constituents, including from some first responders themselves,” the lawmakers said.
They asked Mr. Poth to commit to ensuring that questions from the state’s Public Safety Broadband Network Commission are addressed, noting that it wrote FirstNet earlier this month “with a proposed list of sites that could be built-out to significantly improve network coverage throughout the state.”
They also said the state and residents “have raised concerns that the current coverage plan is inadequate to meet Vermont’s basic needs” and they asked FirstNet to “provide Vermont’s first responders with maps showing detailed signals levels” and inquired what recourse the state would have if AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, fails to deliver the promised coverage. In particular, they asked about penalties that AT&T would face.
The lawmakers also asked what penalties AT&T would have to pay for failing to sign up enough subscribers and asked if those funds would “be returned specifically to Vermont for reinvestment to improve the network?”
They also asked if AT&T would provide “reliable pricing and rate information” and whether FirstNet would work with Vermont if it opts out. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org
FirstNet’s Competition. The law that created FirstNet is very clear when it comes to states and territories opting in or out of FirstNet. There are two ways to opt in: The governor of the state or territory decides to opt in by the December 28, 2017 deadline, or the governor simply does nothing in which case the opt in for that state is automatic. Opting out requires the state to provide the FCC, within 180 days, a plan demonstrating that the Radio Access Network (RAN), the only portion of the network authorized by law for states to build on their own, will be 100-percent compatible with the FirstNet network. The state will then negotiate a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for some of the network. As a final step, there must be a spectrum lease agreement between the state and FirstNet. All of this is called out in the law Congress passed in 2012. These are not conditions imposed by FirstNet.
Now if a state opts out, the FirstNet mandate is that the radio access network provided by the state or its vendor must be connected to the FirstNet core when public safety users populate the FirstNet network. FirstNet has also said that secondary users may, in fact, be routed to a different core located within the state or operated by the vendor. Again, ALL public safety traffic is to be routed to the FirstNet core. This makes sense when you understand this is to be a nationwide network sharing resources and applications that is usable across the entire nation.
Once a state has opted in there are no additional federal rules that impact public safety agencies within the state. Each agency has the option to join the FirstNet system, with its existing broadband provider, or to not use any broadband services. This local level is the area in which competition is occurring. Verizon has said it will actively seek to keep its existing public safety customers and to add more customers. It is also trying to obtain permission to host its own public safety core. Both FirstNet and AT&T are opposed to this with good reason. Having multiple standalone cores does not lend itself to fulfilling the goal of full interoperability this network was envisioned to provide. I have been told by experts in the field that if the cores are connected to each other the overall system will be more difficult to secure from a cybersecurity perspective, which is high on the list of network priorities. Read the Entire Blog here Continue reading
First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said today that he is confident that the 29 states and two territories that have opted in to the network so far will be joined by many others leading up to the Dec. 28 deadline for governors to decide whether to opt out. In the text of prepared remarks for IWCE’s Critical LTE Communications Forum in Dallas today, Mr. Poth also said that even after governors make their decisions, FirstNet will continue to consult with states and territories to ensure the network continues to improve and is updated.
In other remarks at today’s event, Chris Sambar, senior vice president-FirstNet for AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, touted the benefits to states and territories of opting in and first responders signing up for service and defended the hiring of former state officials who are experts in public safety, according to AT&T.
First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) President TJ Kennedy plans to leave the organization at the end of this year, the authority announced today. “After more than four years with FirstNet, TJ Kennedy has decided the time is right to pursue other opportunities in the private sector and take on new challenges in his career,” FirstNet said. “He has been with FirstNet from the startup days and into our current operational phase – fulfilling his promise to us and to public safety. TJ will be staying with FirstNet through the end of the year enabling a smooth transition of responsibilities.”
Mr. Kennedy was hired by FirstNet in 2013 as deputy general manager (TR Daily, July 31, 2013), joining the organization from the Raytheon Company, where he was an executive after a career in public safety. He served as acting GM and then acting executive director, the new title for the top staffer job, after the departure of Bill D’Agostino Jr. (TR Daily, April 14, 2014), and was hired as FirstNet’s first president in 2015 when Mike Poth was hired to the newly named post of chief executive officer (TR Daily, Aug. 17, 2015). Mr. Kennedy had sought the top job permanently. Continue reading
Rivada Networks LLC has told a House subcommittee that it has the experience to build radio access networks (RANs) for states that opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system. At a Nov. 1 hearing before the House communications and technology subcommittee, Rep. Mike Doyle (D., Pa.), the subcommittee’s ranking member, asked John Stevens, the statewide interoperability coordinator and FirstNet state point of contact (SPOC) for New Hampshire, the Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee has concluded that the alternative state plan prepared by Rivada is superior to that of FirstNet’s, if he was concerned that Rivada has not built a RAN (TR Daily, Nov. 1). Continue reading
Utah announced today that it has decided to opt in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The state is the 29th to opt in, joining two U.S. territories. “Utah is pleased to join other states in working with FirstNet to deploy the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network,” said Gov. Gary Herbert (R.). “First responders need to have the most advanced and reliable communication technology so they can access critical information, respond efficiently, and coordinate efforts. The FirstNet plan and associated technology will give Utah and the nation the necessary tools to maximize public safety.”
“Reliable communications are critical to the safety and success of first responders and the public,” said Tom Ross, president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. “During emergencies networks get clogged because people are simultaneously trying to communicate. We are excited that FirstNet will establish a dedicated network that prioritizes first responders’ communications.” Continue reading
The International Association of Fire Chiefs says Congress should repeal a provision in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 that requires the FCC to auction the T-band, which is used by public safety agencies in 11 major markets. IAFC submitted a letter yesterday to the House communications and technology subcommittee, which held a hearing on the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) (TR Daily, Nov. 1).
Congress is requiring the FCC to reallocate and auction public safety spectrum in the T-band by 2021 and relocate incumbents by 2023. Proceeds from the auction can be used to cover the relocation costs of public safety licensees. The T-band encompasses TV channels 14-20 (470-512 megahertz).
In its letter, IAFC also reiterated its support for FirstNet, which has drawn criticism from some state officials for the terms of draft spectrum manager lease agreements (SMLAs).
“Public safety fought hard to establish FirstNet because we knew that we were being left behind compared to the technologies available for personal-use communications,” IAFC said. “The IAFC is united with other national public safety organizations behind the desire to see FirstNet succeed and we will continue to fight for public safety’s access to the best available technology to keep the public safe.” Continue reading