FirstNet Authority Board Approves Network Investment

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is boosting in-building coverage on FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network.

Meeting today in New Hampshire, the FirstNet Authority Board approved an investment to expand services for network coverage via small-cell technologies. The investment aims to increase FirstNet coverage where public safety agencies operate indoors, such as police headquarters, fire stations, Emergency Communication Centers, and other critical sites and field locations.

The FirstNet Authority conducted robust engagement and market research with the public safety community – including the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – to develop the investment and inform the Board’s action.

“Public safety is at the center of our investment process – the FirstNet Authority is laser focused on making sure the network continues to provide the communications they need for their mission,” said FirstNet Authority Board Chair Steve Benjamin. “Through our dialogue with public safety, they point to in-building coverage as a top priority for FirstNet. With this investment, we will enhance indoor coverage, provide an additional layer of network resiliency, and give public safety the ability to deploy this service where and when they need it the most.”

The FirstNet Authority Board passed Resolution 113 “Network Investments” at today’s quarterly Board meeting. The resolution directs the FirstNet Authority to issue a task order to its network contractor, AT&T, to make an indoor-coverage enhancing service – a RAN (Radio Access Network) extension – available to primary FirstNet subscribing agencies.

This service would enable stronger in-building access to the network, including mission critical services and priority and preemption. Users will have the capability to deploy small-cell technology where and when they need it to enhance Band 14 coverage for in-building locations where they operate, including temporary field locations.

“The FirstNet Authority has a strong partnership with public safety so we can make investments that advance the network to benefit their operations,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Ed Parkinson. “In-building coverage routinely tops the list of their desired improvements for FirstNet, so we are thrilled to be investing in a service that will help public safety deploy more localized and focused coverage solutions.”

Today’s action follows previous investments by the FirstNet Authority to increase network coverage by expanding the FirstNet’s fleet of deployables. The FirstNet Authority has also invested in initial generational upgrades to the network core for 5G capabilities.

The FirstNet Authority’s investments are made possible through a sustainable business model that enables the organization to continually improve and advance the network. The investments align with the FirstNet Authority’s Roadmap, which outlines the key priorities and activities for advancing and evolving the network beyond current contractual commitments. In addition, the FirstNet Authority established a set of investment principles to further guide the decision-making process for network investment.

About the First Responder Network Authority

The FirstNet Authority is an independent entity within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Created in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities

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