FirstNet releases roadmap for network enhancements
FirstNet rolled out the technological and policy roadmap that will guide the programs, activities and investments over the next five years that will ensure first responders have the communications tools they need.
The plan, which was developed with input from public safety organizations and the technology industry, is organized into six domains representing communications capabilities that address the network infrastructure, public safety features and responders' user experience:
Network core, which ensures the network remains technologically current by exploring cloud-based operations to bring processing closer to users and addressing foundational needs for next-generation technologies.
Coverage and capacity, which enables robust and ubiquitous network access by increasing outdoor and indoor coverage, facilitating in-building coverage enhancements and expanding the deployables fleet.
Situational awareness, which envisions real-time access, collection and distribution of critical information by enabling easy consumption of geo-location information and collaborating on development of information sharing capabilities.
Voice communications, which envisions high-quality, reliable voice communications across analog and digital platforms by deploying mission-critical push to talk and advocating for standards and features such as device-to-device communications, land mobile radio to LTE interconnection and enhanced dispatch capabilities.
Secure information exchange, which envisions the ability to access, exchange and manage data securely and conveniently within and across public safety agencies and jurisdictions through the use of identity, credential and access management and collaboration on standards for governance and data security.
User experience, which seeks to ensure interfaces are designed for public safety users’ operational challenges by improving the performance of priority services and advocating for user-friendly apps and specialized devices.
“As we look to the future of FirstNet, it is critical that we deliver network enhancements and innovations based on the needs of public safety and in lock step with trends in technology,” FirstNet Authority Board Chair Edward Horowitz said. “This Roadmap lays out priorities for ensuring first responders have the dedicated and differentiated network they asked for, supported by the FirstNet Authority’s management of and investment in the network.”
AT&T, which provides FirstNet’s supporting network, said it now serves 9,000 local safety agencies, accounting for 750,000 connections to the network. Over 1,700 public safety agency subscribers have signed on since May, and 150,000 connections were added, the company said in an Aug. 13 statement. Additionally, the “Band 14” network that supports FirstNet now reaches almost 650 markets nationally.
In a July 24 earnings call, AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said that at the end of this quarter, his company was about 60% complete with its national coverage for FirstNet, which he noted is ahead of schedule. Because of that, the company has targeted 70% completion by the end of the year.
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