The majority of the Public Safety community still believes today that this new network is about data and video and not about voice, at least for the foreseeable future.
Now it seems Voice over LTE hype is back in full swing. At the recent APCO event, apparently the word was that the 3GPP will add mission-critical voice to the standards by 2018, so 2018 is when it will be available for FirstNet.
The Public Safety community wants to be more than simply customers on the FirstNet system. They want to be good partners as well. But in order to prepare for FirstNet they need some guidance and they need it soon. Many opportunities to ensure that new Public Safety LMR systems are “FirstNet-ready” will be lost unless this type of information is created and then disseminated in a timely fashion.
The power co-ops would like wireless network access for their smart grid work, for smart meters, and of course, to sell fixed and/or mobile services to their rural customers. These power companies have feet on the street, trucks that service their rural customers, high-tension and other poles that could be used for cell sites, and right of ways that could be used for fiber backhaul or for microwave links. Rural operators want to provide LTE to their customers to be able to offer more of the latest and greatest wireless devices and nationwide roaming.
I would like to see everyone back off and wait until several things happen. First, let’s get the network in place for data and video services. Let’s see how much capacity is really needed by Public Safety, especially during incidents.
FirstNet will be the best thing that has happened to Public Safety in years, but it will require some changes in how law enforcement, fire, EMS, and other agencies work together and coordinate at incidents. Don’t wait for FirstNet to come to your area, get a jump on it now and be ready when it is.
The NPSBN is the most ambitious nationwide network ever undertaken in the United States and it is different from the public commercial networks in many aspects. First and foremost, it must provide the capabilities needed by the Public Safety community, and it must be more reliable.
This morning, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) published a document intended for distribution to any and all elected federal, state, and local elected officials. This document states clearly and in plain language why Public Safety Land Mobile Radio (LMR) voice systems MUST be maintained even though FirstNet is building out a new Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).
My advice for the technologists is to continue the good work they are doing but to tone down their technology assessments and predictions with the reality of the time involved and all of the processes and issues that must be addressed and solved, assuming they can be solved. Until then, the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network will remain about data and video, while today’s Land Mobile Radio networks are about mission-critical voice. Both networks will be needed for a very long time to come.
Public Safety, on the other hand, will most likely turn this model around. That is, there will be more data, video, and information sent from the devices back to command centers, Incident Commanders, and others while the amount of data and video sent to the devices will be less, and less often.
In this, the first of a multi-part series, I will attempt to outline what I believe are the steps that need to be taken to move forward with this network—a network that will both serve the Public Safety community for many years, and that will live up to the Public Safety community’s expectations.
Next to FirstNet and Public Safety. No matter what we do, the FirstNet network will resemble a commercial cellular-type network because it IS a cellular-type network. There will be too many sites, each with multiple points of failure.
The Politics and the Technology As the FirstNet board addresses the architecture for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network using LTE (Long Term Evolution), one of the…
Don’t rely on it, but try it. Learn what broadband can and cannot do. Broadband should be looked upon as a new tool to make first responders safer, to assist the citizens better and faster, and to cut down on the voice traffic on your network.
The people needed for the CEO, COO, CTO, and CFO-type of positions reporting to the FirstNet board need to be high-level, skilled people who have been involved in planning and setting up a broadband network and handling the finances, technology, and operational aspects of such a system.