FirstNet recently delivered initial consultation packages to all 56 states and U.S. territories. The consultation process aims to increase our understanding of each state’s unique needs in the development of state public safety communications plans. I’m writing to alert firefighters, police officers, and paramedics as well as all relevant city and county officials to this development, and to encourage you to ensure that your needs are taken into account as your state develops its plan.

FirstNet is working through each state’s single point of contact (SPOC) to consult with cities, counties, and first responders to gather the requirements needed for network development.  You can participate in the state planning process by contacting your SPOC.  For a list of state SPOCS go here.

Our organization will help city and county officials fulfill one of their primary responsibilities—assuring the safety of their citizens, especially if the network is designed based on specific first responder needs. With your help, FirstNet will provide emergency responders with the first high-speed, nationwide network dedicated to public safety. It will provide mission-critical, high-speed data services to supplement the voice capabilities of today’s land mobile radio (LMR) networks. Initially, the FirstNet network will be used for sending data, video, images and text. The network will also carry location information and eventually support streaming video and voice over LTE.

The network will be built using long term evolution (LTE), the most advanced wireless technology available today. It will enable a faster, more informed and better coordinated response to incidents across city, county, state, and regional emergency services personnel. Just as smartphones have changed the way we communicate in our personal lives, FirstNet devices and applications will change the way our first responders operate.

TJ Kennedy is Acting General Manager, First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

FirstNet's mission is to develop, build and operate the country's first nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to provide emergency responders with a high-speed broadband network.

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