A Public Private Approach to Public Safety Communications: The Best Way to Make Rapid and Affordable Progress in Implementing the Government's FirstNet Plan Is to Start by Taking Advantage of the Existing Commercial Infrastructure
Issues in Science and Technology, Summer 2013
8 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2016
Date Written: 2013
By almost any measure, the thousands of public safety communications networks in the United States today are inadequate. The U.S. National Broadband Plan recommended deployment of a nationwide network for public safety, which is now known as FirstNet. FirstNet has the potential to provide emergency responders with high-speed mobile data services, at lower cost, higher spectral efficiency, and greater dependability than we have seen with previous public safety systems, but only if FirstNet adopts an effective strategy, and quickly. This paper describes such a strategy. The key to making rapid progress at low cost is leveraging commercial infrastructure and commercial technology. This begins by establishing priority roaming agreements with multiple commercial carriers and aggregating the demand of public safety agencies nationwide to convince device manufactures and standards bodies to meet public safety needs. Without rapid progress, there is a danger that states and municipalities will go their own separate ways, and this historic opportunity will be lost.
Keywords: FirstNet, public safety communications, homeland security, first responder, cellular, emergency, interoperability
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation