FirstNet for Emergency Communications: 6 Questions Answered

FirstNet 6 Questions Answered

Emergency workers will be able to preempt other users’ traffic on the network, and will be able to send and receive as much data as they need to during their emergency work.

In the aftermath of 9/11, public safety officials in New York City and around the country realized that firefighters, police officers and ambulance workers needed to be able to talk to each other at an emergency scene – not just to their supervisors and dispatchers. The solution was nearly 16 years in coming, but on March 30, the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, was created. It’s one of the largest public-private partnership agreements ever, between the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce) and a group of companies led by AT&T. AT&T and its partners will develop and manage a nationwide wireless broadband network for use by first responders. Each U.S. state and territory is in the process of deciding whether it wants to build its own towers and wired connections or let the AT&T group do the construction. Ladimer Nagurney and Anna Nagurney, scholars of communications and network systems, respectively, explain what this multi-billion-dollar effort is, and what it means.

What is FirstNet?

The system nicknamed FirstNet was created by Congress in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. Under the contract with the government, the group led by AT&T will build, operate and maintain a new nationwide communications network, providing high-speed wireless communications for public safety agencies and personnel. The network will be protected against unauthorized intrusion and strong enough to withstand disasters that might damage other communications systems. Emergency workers will be able to preempt other users’ traffic on the network, and will be able to send and receive as much data as they need to during their emergency work.

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