POLICE Magazine

JUL 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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➔ This year FirstNet, the first responder cellular communications network, is coming online aer nearly 15 years of development. is will mean a major change in the way some law enforcement agencies and officers conduct their communications. As FirstNet matures it has the potential to end cellular logjams that block crit- ical first responder calls at events and incidents, lessen the impact of communications interoperability problems that plague public safety operations, and improve real-time situational awareness for officers. But first will come the baby steps as more agencies adopt this communications tool. Here's some things you need to know about FirstNet that will help you decide if this communications tool is for you or your agency. 1. BORN OF 9/11 In the months and years aer the 9/11 attacks, the ability of vari- ous public safety agencies to communicate with each other when responding to major incidents became a major concern. Interop- erability was the buzzword of the era. A proposal for a dedicated first responder network grew out of the need for interoperability. 2. THE TV CONNECTION About 10 years ago most of the television broadcasters in the Unit- ed States were required to switch from analog to digital. (You may remember having to acquire a digital converter for your analog set.) is freed up a large amount of broadcast spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Much of this radio spectrum was auctioned off to cellular phone companies. But some of it, Band 14, was reserved for FirstNet. 3. PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FirstNet is short for the First Responder Network Authority, which was created in a 2012 tax bill and is operated under the Department of Commerce. Last year FirstNet held an auction to determine which cellular provider would gain access to the FirstNet spectrum in return for building the first responder net- work. AT&T won the auction. So FirstNet is now a public-private partnership. 4. THE CORE Earlier this year FirstNet announced the launch of its nationwide core, which means essentially the system is now live. e First- Net core is built on entirely separate hardware from the standard AT&T cellular system. is separates all FirstNet traffic from AT&T's commercial traffic. "It's like having a superhighway that only public safety can use," FirstNet says. 5. 56 STATES AND TERRITORIES Each state and territory was given the opportunity to opt in to the FirstNet network or build its own. To no one's surprise, none of them chose to build their own. FirstNet service was selected by all 50 plus the District of Columbia and five territories. 6. SIGNING UP Now that so many states and territories have opted in to FirstNet, just about every law enforcement officer in the country can sign up for the service. is can be accomplished one of two ways: either the entire agency can sign up (more about that in a minute) and/or the individual officer can choose a FirstNet plan for personal cell phone service. In order to qualify for individual FirstNet service, each officer's status must be verified by his or her agency. Cost of the service depends on the individual plan selected. 7. AGENCYWIDE IMPLEMENTATION In addition to individual officers signing up for FirstNet service, 8 S P E C I A L R E P O R T • M I S S I O N C R I T I C A L C O M M U N I C AT I O N S PHOTOS: FIRSTNET 10 Things to Know About FirstNet THE NATION'S LARGEST DEDICATED FIRST RESPONDER COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK CAN PROVIDE AGENCIES AND OFFICERS WITH ENHANCED CELLULAR CAPABILITIES. Da v id Gr i f f it h

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