News From Around the Web

FirstNet Board Lays Out 2020 Priorities, Looks Back at 2019 Accomplishments
Mission Critical Communications | 12/06/19 
FirstNet Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ed Parkinson said that FirstNet has five core priorities for the next year: contract oversight, stakeholder engagement, road map implementation, strategic investment, and organizational health.

Commerce Department vet Lisa Casias named a Deputy CEO for the FirstNet Authority
Urgent Communications | 12/06/19 
U.S. Department of Commerce veteran Lisa Casias was announced as the new Deputy CEO for the FirstNet Authority during yesterday’s open meeting of the organization’s board members.

FirstNet Cell Site in Mule Creek Junction
AT&T | 12/05/19 
Wyoming’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of a new, purpose-built cell site. The site – located near the intersection of Highway 18 and Highway 85 in Mule Creek Junction – is part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place in Wyoming, which is bringing increased coverage, capacity and capability to first responders across the state. Plus, the new FirstNet site will give Niobrara County first responders access to the fastest overall network experience.

AT&T’s FirstNet build 75% complete; CFO says ‘money well spent’
Fierce Wireless | 12/04/19 
AT&T CFO John Stephens, speaking Tuesday at the Wells Fargo 2019 TMT investor conference, called the FirstNet buildout “really, really successful” and at 75% complete, well ahead of schedule.

FirstNet Reaches Over 1 Million Connections
AT&T | 12/03/19 
More than 10,000 public safety agencies and organizations across the country have subscribed. And over 1 million FirstNet connections are in service, bringing first responders and those that support them the reliability, capability and accountability they trust to carry out their mission. 

California Lawmakers Push for Cell Backup After Fires
Government Technology | 11/25/19 
State legislators plan to push for measures to require at least 72 hours of backup power at cell towers after phone and internet service failed during widespread PG&E power outages.

Northwestern Minnesota Gains New FirstNet Site
Mission Critical Communications | 11/25/19 
First responders in northwestern Minnesota and those serving the White Earth Reservation will see a coverage boost with a new purpose-built cell site as part of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) buildout. The site, located between the White Earth Reservation and Itasca State Park, is part of FirstNet’s network expansion in Minnesota.

California Tribal Groups Meet to Learn More About FirstNet Features
Mission Critical Communications | 11/22/19 
Public-safety representatives from nine federally recognized tribes in the southern and central region of California met Oct. 3 for a training exercise to learn more about the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). 

Expanded Telehealth Uses and Capabilities on the FirstNet Network
FirstNet | 11/12/19 
The First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet Authority) Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) recently formed a Strike Team to examine new applications of telehealth, in response to the charge by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) leaders to provide the “Right Care, at the Right Time, at the Right Place.”  Telehealth and, in particular, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) program are current discussion topics in EMS forums nationwide.

AT&T rips T-Mobile’s promise to first responders as ‘a marketing stunt’
Fierce Wireless | 11/11/19 
AT&T is calling T-Mobile’s promise regarding first responders a marketing ploy. In an email to FierceWireless, an AT&T spokesperson said, “We have a deep and genuine commitment to connecting first responders and using technology to enrich education, not marketing stunts contingent on getting something approved. If they believe it’s critical to offer free access to these communities they would do it today, no conditions or questions asked.”

EDA, NIST, and FirstNet Announce $1 Million Interagency Disaster Challenge
Homeland Security Today | 11/07/19 
The Economic Development Administration (EDA), in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), have launched the Accelerate R2 Network Challenge. The program is a $1 million grant challenge to address the nation’s most pressing disaster response and resiliency (R2) challenges with innovative technologies.

When Z-location doesn’t matter: An open letter to the first responder community (Reader Forum)  
RCR Wireless | 11/06/19 
To-date, no live field trials using actual 911 calls have been conducted to validate the accuracy or usefulness of the z-axis technology. In fact, Apple cautioned the FCC about the limitations of deploying the new technology solely based on controlled experiments. At the same time, other promising dispatchable location solutions that could provide an accurate address, floor and unit with most 911 calls today have not been considered.

Motorola Solutions CEO: FirstNet LTE ‘complementary’ to LMR, not threatening
Urgent Communications | 11/06/19 
Motorola Solutions recently introduced its first radio with LTE connectivity – the APX NEXT – but that should not be interpreted as an indication that LTE is beginning to cannibalize the company’s LMR business, Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown said last week.

FirstNet adopted by more than 9,800 agencies, supporting almost 900,000 connection, AT&T says  
Urgent Communications | 11/05/19 
More than 9,800 agencies have subscribed to FirstNet and connected almost 900,000 devices to the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN), according to figures recently released by AT&T, which was selected to build and maintain the NPSBN in March 2017.

Here’s Why Seattle’s Fire Department is Using AT&T’s FirstNet
Light Reading | 11/04/19 
“With FirstNet we were not hindered by bandwidth constraints. It's about getting more information when you need it." - Chris Lombard, the deputy chief of the Seattle Fire Department

Five key differences between in-building public safety and cellular networks
RCR Wireless | 10/30/19 
Some of the major differences include system exclusivity, differences in governance and operations, funding, frequencies, and hardware and coverage requirements.

New Radio Brings AI Voice Assistant to Law Enforcement
Government Technology | 10/25/19 
The public safety radio is called APX NEXT, building upon the company’s prior APX two-way radios, and the virtual assistant that controls it has been dubbed ViQi (pronounced “Vicky”). The company’s news release on Thursday said the radio is FirstNet-ready, built with LTE connectivity, and is the first APX radio to feature a touchscreen, designed for field use including with rain or gloves.

FirstNet Experience Center to Demo, Get Feedback on Future Technology
Mission Critical Communications | 10/18/19 
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans to open a 6,000-square-foot experience center that would allow public-safety stakeholders to interact with next-generation technologies and offer feedback. The new experience center will be located near FirstNet’s Innovation and Test Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

FirstNet added to Missouri Field Operations Guide to support communications interoperability
FirstNet | 10/18/19 
Recently, the Missouri Department of Public Safety updated the Missouri Field Operations Guide to include information about emerging FirstNet features and deployable communications support. Available at no cost to FirstNet subscribers, the FirstNet fleet of deployable network assets can be requested to support planned events and emergencies where additional coverage is needed.

FirstNet Authority board gets two members, including first 911 official
Urgent Communications | 10/17/19 
All positions on the FirstNet Authority board are filled, after U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today appointed two new members, Karima Holmes–the first 911 official to serve on the board–and Matt Slinkard of the Houston Police Department.

Police Executive Research Forum Report Compares FirstNet Performance with Other Commercial Networks 
Mission Critical Communications | 10/15/19 
During the drive tests in Camden, devices operating on FirstNet typically had weaker signal strength than devices operating on commercial networks. However, the FirstNet devices had generally faster data upload and download speeds — known as throughput — and thus were able to transfer images faster and more reliably.

FirstNet apps: How first response gets done 
GCN 10/02/19 
“The real power of a smartphone or a tablet computer comes not in access to the network -- that’s kind of a given -- but it comes in the applications, the apps that are on the device that actually make public-safety agencies more efficient and more effective, protect the public and protect the responder,” said Bill Schrier, senior adviser at the FirstNet Authority, the government entity Congress authorized in 2012 to develop, build and operate the nationwide network. 

How fast is FirstNet growing? 
RCR Wireless | 10/01/19 
FirstNet’s subscriber base has been growing – sometimes quite rapidly — since AT&T made its services available in mid-2018. According to AT&T’s last update in August 2019, there are nearly 9,000 agencies and organizations which have subscribed to FirstNet, and more than 750,000 FirstNet connections, a number that the carrier says is “growing daily.”

AT&T shifts leadership of FirstNet team 
RCR Wireless | 9/27/19 
Chris Sambar has been promoted to the role of executive VP, AT&T Technology Operations, responsible for both wireless and wireline network planning, investment, engineering, construction and operations for AT&T’s consumer, business and government customers. Sambar's role as senior vice president for the FirstNet program at AT&T will be filled by Jason Porter.

FirstNet Advances Investments to Expand Coverage
Firehouse | 9/18/19 
Meeting today in Washington, D.C., the Board gave the green light for the FirstNet Authority to pursue investments in the following areas: 1) Expansion of the FirstNet fleet of deployables to enhance network coverage and capacity for public safety during emergencies and events and 2) Initial generational upgrades to the FirstNet core to enable 5G network capabilities.

FirstNet users will have access to 5G, but Band 14 will remain on 4G LTE for years, AT&T's FirstNet lead says 
Urgent Communications | 9/11/19 
FirstNet users will have access to AT&T’s 5G services that are set to be available nationwide by the middle of next year, but the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum will continue to leverage 4G LTE for years to protect public-safety device investments and key functionality, according to the leader of AT&T’s FirstNet team.

FirstNet Case Study – Beyond Signal Strength: Measuring Performance of Public Safety Mobile Broadband Networks
Police Forum | September 2019
A protocol for testing FirstNet and commercial carriers.

Global Government Officials Gather to Discuss Public-Safety Broadband 
Mission Critical Communications 8/30/19 
Officials from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which oversees the U.S. nationwide public-safety broadband network (NSPBN), hosted and helped organize the event. The group heard details from FirstNet staff members about how they gather information and engage with public safety, how the request for proposals (RFP) was formed, and updates on how the network is progressing.

Maryland's Tilghman Island Receives New FirstNet Site 
Mission Critical Communications | 8/28/19 
AT&T is adding a site in Tilghman Island, part of Talbot County, Maryland, as part of its First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) network expansion.

FirstNet making an impact early in three communities, speakers say 
Urgent Communications 8/28/19 
John Cueto, police chief for the Town of Duck, N.C., said that FirstNet has been huge help to his department, which has seen its data needs skyrocket in recent years with the implementation of mobile data terminals (MDTs), in-car video, body cameras and automatic license-plate readers. 

FirstNet approves $82 million budget for 2020
State Scoop 8/20/19 
The First Responder Network Authority, the Commerce Department unit that oversees the network, also approved $82 million in reserve funding and $145 million in reinvestment for network enhancements.

Columbia first responders now using ‘FirstNet,’ a public safety communications platform
ABC Columbia 8/19/19 
"This technology platform will better allow us to help save lives,” said Columbia Police Deputy Chief Melron Kelly. Columbia is the largest FirstNet deployment in South Carolina.

AT&T FirstNet gets contract nod 
The Leader-Herald | 8/19/19 
The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday officially designated AT&T FirstNet as the county’s base bid contract for all county cellular telephones and wireless communication device systems.

Using FirstNet on Idaho Wildfires 
Boise State Public Radio | 8/16/19 
Recent wildfires in the Stanley area got a little help from FirstNet.

FirstNet releases roadmap for network enhancements 
GCN | 8/14/19 
Nearly 9,000 public safety agencies and organizations have subscribed to FirstNet, accounting for over 750,000 connections in service. And the numbers are growing daily.

FirstNet Momentum: Platform Passes 750,000 Connections, Performs Faster Than Any Commercial Network for Second Consecutive Quarter 
FirstNet | 8/12/19 
Nearly 9,000 public safety agencies and organizations have subscribed to FirstNet, accounting for over 750,000 connections in service. And the numbers are growing daily.

Next-generation 911 gets $109 million boost 
State Scoop | 8/09/19 
The Commerce Department on Friday announced more than than $109 million in new federal grants have become available to states upgrading their 911 systems.

New FirstNet Cell Sites Launch in Warren County to Support Public Safety 
FirstNet | 8/09/19 
Warren County’s first responders are getting a major boost in their wireless communications with the addition of 2 new, purpose-built cell sites. The sites – located in Warrenton and near Lake Gaston – are part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place in North Carolina, which is bringing increased coverage, capacity and capability to first responders across the state. 

AT&T CEO says FirstNet buildout 60% done, with 70% mark targeted by end of year
Urgent Communications | 7/26/19
AT&T’s FirstNet 700 MHz Band 14 deployment was about 60% finished at the end of June, and the carrier giant hopes to reach the 70% completion mark by the end of the year, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said this week.

The Senate just extended the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090
Vox | 7/23/19
The Senate overwhelmingly voted to extend the fund, which pays out claims for deaths and illnesses related to the 9/11 attacks, on Tuesday, 97-2. 9/11 first responders were at risk of losing coverage for their claims after December 2020. Under the bill, $10.2 billion will be authorized for the fund for the next 10 years, then additional billions until 2090, essentially covering the surviving 9/11 responders for the rest of their lives.

Rural Colorado sheriff's department uses Samsung, Visual Labs, FirstNet to provide an affordable body-cam solution 
Urgent Communications | 7/19/19
Sheriff Tom Ridnour of Kit Carson County, Colorado says he is leveraging Samsung smartphones, FirstNet connectivity and Visual Labs’ video platform to deliver an effective and affordable video solution for his rural department.

Warming climate likely leading to larger California fires 
Ars Technica | 7/18/19
A new study from a team led by Park Williams and John Abatzoglou—also the scientists behind a recent study of western US fires—uses government records of California wildfire areas going back to 1972, along with weather data and climate model simulations. 

Public Safety First Responders Use Autonomous Drone Solutions to Save Lives, Property
Fire House | 7/16/19
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are being proactively adopted by public safety agencies, police and fire departments, emergency operations centers and other stakeholders for disaster monitoring, real-time situational awareness, search and rescue missions, firefighting, law enforcement surveillance, and other use-cases.

Heeding the Call for Better Technology Dollars Flow into 911 Communications 
Forbes | 7/16/19
“A lot of VC money is coming into the market,” says Robert Chefitz, managing partner of security-focused private equity firm Egis Capital.

Why 6Hz is Critical to Public Safety and Industry 
Mission Critical Communications | 7/08/19
The demand is so high that the FCC opened a proceeding to adopt rules for unlicensed use in the 6 GHz spectrum, which is currently licensed to many public-safety entities and businesses that rely on the spectrum for safety and critical communications for fixed point-to-point microwave communications.

San Jose first to implement FirstNet citywide 
State Scoop | 7/01/19
The city announced Wednesday that it will outfit 10 agencies, including public works, environmental services and and the office of civic innovation with FirstNet-approved devices capable of connecting to the Band 14 spectrum, which has been set aside by the federal government for public-safety users to access the internet.

GAO: Don't Boot Emergency Personnel from T-Band Spectrum 
Next Gov | 6/24/19
The Government Accountability Office urged Congress to protect America’s first responders from being booted from communicating on a sliver of the spectrum the Federal Communications Commission is poised to auction in 2021. 

Can 'Big Data' Help Fight Big Fires? Firfighters are Betting on It 
The New York Times | 6/24/19
With that urgency in mind, for about 18 months the department has been testing a program developed by the WiFire Lab at the San Diego Supercomputer Center that makes fast predictions about where active fires will spread next. The program, known as FireMap, pulls together real-time information about topography, flammable materials and weather conditions, among other variables, from giant government data sets and on-the-ground sensors.

Texas will now classify 911 dispatchers as first responders, giving them recognition and more benefits 
CNN | 6/15/19
The change will not only give dispatchers a degree of recognition alongside police, fire and emergency medical services, but will also let them access benefits to help support their mental health, according to Amarillo Fire Department Capt. Jeremy Hill, who manages the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center. The law will go into effect September 1. 

Firefighters union head calls on White House to back 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
The Hill | 6/13/19
Harold Schaitberger, who is general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), said Thursday that even though the bill boasts strong bipartisan support in Congress it could use more help from the White House.