FirstNet Says New Role Is Public-Safety Product Influencer
Thursday, December 07, 2017 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) should influence public-safety products and solutions in its new role after the opt-out deadline passes at the end of the year, FirstNet officials said at a Dec. 7 board meeting.

FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson said FirstNet’s role going forward is influencing products and solutions.

Rich Reed, chief customer officer, said FirstNet should influence existing products, along with informing planned products and solutions and identifying future products and solutions based on public-safety needs. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Jeff Bratcher said FirstNet will influence the device ecosystem, along with applications and interoperability.

“There is no requirement to subscribe to FirstNet, so we think it’s vital to develop innovation,” Bratcher said. He said an innovation forum to identify the current and future state of public safety’s broadband toolkit will launch in the first quarter of 2018.

AT&T plans to deliver the FirstNet core in March, and focus groups will engage with AT&T to discuss recommendations and definitions for mission-critical services, Bratcher said. James Mitchell, Network Program Office (NPO) director, said about 300 items need to be completed to make sure the network core becomes a reality.

Mitchell said upcoming activities include band 14 network deployment, along with a public-safety band 14 device portfolio launch. In addition, AT&T will complete and roll out a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) dashboard where FirstNet can see network performance, adoption, reinvestment risk and contract management details.

The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) will offer more operational, practical real-world advice rather than the research-focused work it has done in the past, said PSAC Chair Tom Sorley. He said the committee is planning further work on identity, credential and access management (ICAM) after giving a user profile report to AT&T. A pilot testing how the framework might work could follow.

Regarding public safety grade, the committee is focused on network availability rather than hardening. The PSAC is discussing with AT&T how it reports to first responders about public safety grade including what accountability will be in place, along with metrics. “We are working on some things we’d like to see and will give them to AT&T and have another discussion,” Sorley said.

Sorley said he wants to ensure the PSAC has an opportunity to weigh in on things and have a level of review. “I think we’re going to be doing a lot of work in 2018,” he said. After committee reports and updates from various FirstNet executives, the board went into closed session to discuss board appointments and personnel issues. The meeting was the first since David Redl was confirmed as assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) last month.

“FirstNet is going to have to become much more strategic …. and move to creating our own destiny,” said Swenson.

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