Fire Technology: FirstNet: A Fire Chief's Journey

Chief Jeff Johnson is the fire service representative appointed to the FirstNet board, which was legislated into place to build a nationwide public safety broadband network. This is a daunting task and all of the FirstNet board members have been working...


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Will it be possible for states to use FirstNet spectrum to generate revenue?

No. The law that created FirstNet requires all fees collected from the use of FirstNet spectrum to be reinvested to build, operate, maintain and improve the network. That said, if states contribute assets to FirstNet, the value of those assets will be factored in to our relationship. We are looking for a win/win here.

 

When will FirstNet replace LMR?

FirstNet can’t replace LMR until mission-critical voice for LTE (long-term evolution) is available. There’s no point guessing when that will happen. We’re still developing standards. We do know that FirstNet will launch with commercial-grade voice and mission-critical data services. Users will be able to send and receive video, images and text. They will have a more reliable and faster network for getting access to data and applications they need to do their jobs. Push-to-talk capability is in our launch plan too.

Practically speaking, FirstNet won’t replace LMR until users trust the network and see the value. At the end of the day, it’s really about adoption. Wouldn’t a combined pager and data device be compelling to volunteer firefighters? We want to create a moral imperative to use FirstNet. If we help you get better situational awareness and find injured firefighters in burning buildings, we believe public safety will switch.

 

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