Five years after Congress first authorized the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as part of The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the United States is set to receive its first interoperable, nationwide public safety network.
On March 17, a federal judge ruled in favor of FirstNet in a lawsuit brought by Rivada Mercury, a partnership formed to bid on the $6.5 billion FirstNet project, which claimed it was improperly excluded from consideration to build out parts of the new network.
According to Government Technology Magazine (GovTech), “the end of the lawsuit and the [FirstNet] board’s unanimous decision on Resolution 84 (which allows for approval to complete acquisition of the nationwide public-safety broadband network [NPSBN]) officially opens the door for FirstNet CEO Mike Poth to finalize the award of the five-year, multi-billion-dollar contract to the yet-to-be-identified bidder.”
— FirstNet (@FirstNetGov) March 28, 2017
GovTech further noted that “board member Jeffrey Johnson said the network would bring the public safety community in line with modern capabilities, like text, photo and video. ‘Somewhere along the path, 14-year-old kids beat us…FirstNet will reset that standard and bring to public safety a world-class network — of public safety, by public safety, for public safety — and bring us applications, technology and performance, the likes of which public safety has never seen.'”
With the bid award expected to be announced any day now, FirstNet has an ambitious roadmap upcoming in the next 100 days, according to RCR Wireless, including:
- Immediate notification of state-level Single Points of Contact and FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee about the bid winner and timing.
- Kickoff meetings to “talk about the deluge of things that are going to happen.”
- Development of a tailored plan for each of the 56 states and territories.
- Establishment of public safety API and FirstNet apps store.
- Creation of a Public Safety Entity homepage.
- Development of local agency control pages to manage accounts, profile, users, subscriptions, and other basic functions.
- Implementation of a customer management system.
As noted by RCR Wireless, “Once states have decided whether to opt in or opt out – and even if they opt out and design their own Radio Access Network, their networks will still have to be interoperable with the rest of the network and use FirstNet’s core — deployment can begin.” Phase one of the network, along with key milestones is expected to be rolled out within the first six months of operation.