Annual Report Outlines Year of Progress Leading to Launch of FirstNet Network
February 27, 2018
By Ed Parkinson, Director of Government Affairs, First Responder Network Authority
Each February – the month that Congress established FirstNet – we submit our annual report to Congress on the progress FirstNet has made to deliver the nationwide public safety broadband network.
As we look back to Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 17), I am proud to say that FirstNet is now a reality. Major steps were taken to deliver on the promise of an interoperable, wireless broadband network to help first responders save lives and protect communities across the country. This is the network that public safety fought for – a network with true priority and ruthless preemption services that will evolve as wireless technology evolves.
While there is much work to be done, the First Responder Network Authority accomplished three significant goals on its path to deploying FirstNet in FY 17: the award of the FirstNet contract; the delivery of State Plans and subsequent opt ins; and significant steps toward network operations and innovation for public safety.
In March 2017, we awarded a 25-year contract to AT&T to build, deploy, maintain, and operate FirstNet. The best value award created a unique public-private partnership that brings together the resources and public safety focus of the First Responder Network Authority, with the private sector operational and technical expertise of our partner.
Less than three months later, we delivered the FirstNet State Plans to governors in the states and territories ahead of schedule. These individual buildout plans for the radio access networks in each state or territory were a culmination of four years of outreach and consultation with public safety stakeholders. This resulted in another major accomplishment -- all 56 states and territories opting in to FirstNet by the end of the governor’s decision period.
Concurrent with the delivery, review, and approval of State Plans, the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T also set up the operational processes for the network. With the launch of FirstNet.com, future FirstNet users can find more information on FirstNet products and services. To establish a path for continual innovation for public safety, we are ramping up work at the FirstNet Innovation and Test Lab, which opened in November 2016. And finally, the FirstNet App Developer Program launched to attract public safety applications for our growing marketplace.
Moving forward, we will continue to work directly with public safety stakeholders and industry to improve and enhance new capabilities for public safety communications. To that end, the First Responder Network Authority is pleased that our Tribal Consultation Policy went into effect this January, as we continue to ensure that the voice of first responders everywhere, including federally recognized tribes, are accounted for as we deploy FirstNet nationwide.
The work for deploying and operationalizing FirstNet is only beginning. With the deployment of Band 14 spectrum and the state radio access networks (RANs), the launch of FirstNet’s core infrastructure on the horizon, and work on public safety adoption - FirstNet is set for another year of major milestones. We look forward to moving ahead together with public safety as we ensure this network meets their life-saving needs.