POLICE Magazine

JUL 2017

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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S television stations were required to tran- sition to digital broadcast signals about a decade ago that freed up radio spectrum in the 700MHz band and triggered a bid- ding war among cellular providers. It also spurred public safety officials to argue that 20MHz of this precious radio real es- tate should be reserved specifically for use by first responders. at's pretty much the birth of what would become the First Responder Net- work Authority, although at the time it went by names such as Public Safety Broadband and Band 14. Today, the Au- thority is known as FirstNet. Established by Congress as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, 30 POLICE JULY 2017 Shortly after the atrocities of 9/11, reports began to emerge that one of the reasons so many firefighters died in the World Trade Center attack was that police helicopters circling above the scene could not warn them the building was about to collapse. is communication breakdown was well documented in the 9/11 Commis- sion Report, which was released in 2004. And ever since that report was issued in- teroperability between different agencies has been a major concern for public safety leaders. What grew out of this concern was a massive initiative to create a cellular communication network just for first re- sponders. And when all of the nation's Not every agency is currently positioned to benefit from FirstNet, but that will change as more start issuing smartphones to their officers. FirstNet was funded with $7 billion and given the mission of establishing, oper- ating, and maintaining a nationwide in- teroperable broadband network for first responders. Today, FirstNet is finally becoming more than just a public safety pipedream. e backers of this initiative quickly real- ized that the federal government was not going to fund a nationwide cellular system for first responders alone. e cost would have been staggering. So instead, FirstNet put out a bid for cellular companies to build the network. In March it was announced that AT&T had won that contract by offer- ing to spend $40 billion over the next 25 years to create and maintain FirstNet. at means FirstNet is about to go online and here's how that could affect you. TOO MUCH TRAFFIC FirstNet is to be a secure broadband cel- lular network that offers specific features for law enforcement. Mike Poth, FirstNet's CEO, says broadband cellular communi- cations devices are becoming more and more prevalent in law enforcement op- erations. For example, some of the nation's largest agencies now issue smartphones to their officers. "Smartphones and other devices are becoming invaluable for patrol officers," says Poth, who served as an offi- cer with the Corvallis, OR, and Tempe, AZ, police departments and retired a captain. Broadband digital devices work great in day-to-day police work, according to Poth, but officers can have a hard time using them for mission critical commu- AFTER NEARLY A DECADE OF DEBATE, A DEDICATED PUBLIC SAFETY CELLULAR NETWORK IS GOING ONLINE. HERE'S HOW THAT MAY AFFECT HOW YOU DO YOUR JOB. DAVID GRIFFITH FIRSTNET AND THE BROADBAND FUTURE PHOTO: FIRSTNET

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