POLICE Magazine

OCT 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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42 POLICE OCTOBER 2018 T his year FirstNet, the first responder cellular communi- cations network, is coming online after 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 critical first responder calls at events and incidents, lessen the impact of communica- tions 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 are 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 after the 9/11 attacks, the ability of various public safety agencies to communi- cate with each other when respond- ing to major incidents became a ma- jor concern. Interoperability 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 United 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 spec- trum 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 Re- sponder 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 cel- 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT FIRSTNET The nation's largest dedicated first responder communications network can provide agencies and officers with enhanced cellular capabilities. Police Tech DAVID GRIFFITH PHOTOS: FIRSTNET Officers with access to FirstNet have priority. When necessary, others will lose access to the cellular network if first responders need the bandwidth.

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