FirstNet making an impact early in three communities, speakers say

Public-safety users have been able to subscribe to FirstNet for only two years, but the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) is making a significant impact on the operations of several first-responder agencies, providing cost-effective data and deployable support immediately and a mission-critical voice option in the future.

John Cueto, police chief for the Town of Duck, N.C., said that FirstNet has been huge help to his department, which has seen its data needs skyrocket in recent years with the implementation of mobile data terminals (MDTs), in-car video, body cameras and automatic license-plate readers. But the last initiative resulted in the cost with a previous commercial wireless carrier jumping to $3,000 per month with data rates being throttled after high usage, he said.

“I went back to that private carrier and tried to negotiate the price, and I was met yet again with ‘No,’” Cueto said during the session at the APCO 2019 event in Baltimore.

In budgetary trouble with his town council, Cueto turned to a cable company that provided connectivity to support the license-plate-reader for $99 per month, but the solution needed a fan and was not designed for public-safety-grade use.

When FirstNet launched, Cueto spoke with members of AT&T’s FirstNet sales team and determined that the new NPSBN would be an ideal fit for the Town of Duck.

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