Need for FirstNet Greater Than Ever, First Responders Say

The government organization charged with building the nation’s first high-speed data network for first responders says it will make its first contract award soon. It will likely happen in November, although no firm date is set. With an award on the $7 billion First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) program potentially just weeks away, first responders say that despite years of planning, they still have more questions than answers when it comes to the future LTE communications backbone. “How will this thing be deployed? What are the subscriber fees going to be? What will be the impact will be on the local budget? How will the network be controlled?” said Yucel Ors, federal advocacy program director for public safety at the National League of Cities. “There are a lot of unknowns still.”

Officially no one even knows who is in the running. FirstNet won’t release the names of bidders, under the rules of the federal procurement process. Unofficially, three groups say they have put their hat in the ring: AT&T, Rivada Mercury and pdvWireless. This alone is noteworthy. When the Federal Communications Commission auctioned public safety spectrum in 2008 it failed to receive a single viable proposal. Many wondered whether the 2016 procurement effort would draw credible attention from potential network builders. It has.


Need for FirstNet Greater Than Ever, First Responders Say