After years of planning and several recent changes in management, FirstNet is making progress toward its goal of creating a nationwide first responder communications network.
On July 29, FirstNet will hold its first in-person consultation with a state – Maryland – to gather information that will inform the project’s specifications. According to the FirstNet website, topics during the consultation include:
- Construction of a core network and any radio-access network (RAN) build-out
- Placement of towers
- Coverage areas of the network, whether at the regional, state, tribal or local levels
- Adequacy of hardening, security, reliability and resiliency requirements
- Assignment of priority to local users
- Assignment of priority and selection of entities seeking access to or use of the nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network and training needs of local users.
Consulting with the states is a five-stage process that will continue after an RFP has been issued, and FirstNet and its vendor build a network that all states can use, said FirstNet Deputy General Manager TJ Kennedy.
“We definitely want to be very communicative with the states and have them working with us so we’re building a public safety network that will work for them,” Kennedy said, adding that what works in Maryland also must work in Washington state and every other state. FirstNet does recognize, however, that the technology and organizational needs may not be the same, Kennedy noted, so the authority is listening closely to make sure the vendor has that information from the start.
FirstNet plans to release a draft RFP before March 2015, Kennedy said, adding that there are many considerations, including cybersecurity, which is becoming a larger issue than ever. He added that there are plans to establish a security operations center that will allow them to monitor the network, be proactive and also respond quickly to any threats that might arise, because the main goal is keeping the network constantly operational and secure.