IWCE 2015 Flashback FirstNet


As you know, I just got home from the IWCE show in Las Vegas. I wanted to go over some of the FirstNet information I found out there. I am following FirstNet because I think it will be a big boom for the industry when it takes off.

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 There are so many moving parts to FirstNet. I mean it is not just building out the network but it is also about how to sustain a public safety network for the long haul. It is about the politics of getting the federal and state governments to work together to create a national public network that is nationwide and 4G and ready to be used in any emergency. Something where all governments and utilities will have access to this network daily and especially during a crisis. All this and politics too. Remember that in government they don’t work together for profit, they work together for the greater good. Now, let’s define the greater good! The states and federal governments probably won’t agree on what the greater good is because it is open to interpretation. I don’t’ want to get into that I just want to give you some feedback from IWCE on FirstNet.

Let’s talk FirstNet. FirstNet is taking a long time but the system is huge and very political. The one thing I got from the sessions I sat in is that communication still seems to be an issue between FirstNet and the states. There was a session that had the state’s point of view and it was very interesting. I sat in on the session called “The State of the States: FirstNet and Public Safety Broadband” and it was people representing the states. There was someone from Texas, Todd Early the TxDPS Deputy Assistant Director, Ohio had Darryl Anderson Major the Ohio MARCS/OHIOSWIC/SIEC Administrator. From New Mexico Jacqueline Miller the Deputy State CIO was supposed to be there but I walked in late and may have missed her. They were all discussing the view from the states. Also there was Richard Reed the FirstNet State Plans Director and Robert LeGrand the founder and CEO of The Digital Decision.

Here is what I got from that session, they plan are still trying to understand how the states will work with FirstNet to deploy and how the system usage will be handled. There are still many questions about opting in and opting out. They are still wondering how the public private partnerships will work. Who will have access to the system and how will they be billed. In other words it seems there are many questions. I am not sure if the states feel well-informed. They have had meetings with FirstNet but they are still working through the high level information.

So what I saw was Ohio FirstNet. Mr. Anderson laid out the plan for Ohio where they will reach out to the counties to talk to each of them. The meeting with FirstNet is scheduled for June 11, 2015, and they hope to get more answers. The thing that he showed us is that each state has a daunting task of working within the state to get the counties and cities to work together to share resources and make this all come together.

Everyone there was looking forward to moving ahead, but with that said they would also like a timeline of when things will happen. They also asked that maybe a weekly update from FirstNet would really help them stay informed. I know that there were technical questions on the system but mostly I got the message that communication between FirstNet and the states still need work. There are technical issues that need to be resolved, but that will be worked out moving forward. Right now they need to start to work on simple things like weekly updates.

What updates? Well, I think they want to know the status of what’s going on. I believe the timeline needs to be laid out. We all hear that they can make the date, but in what order, when will they start the core? When will the RAN be rolled out? What year? Is the funding plan laid out?

Texas has a website where they have some information laid out, http://txlte.com/ if you are interested.

There were several FirstNet sessions and they were all pretty full. FirstNet is obviously on everyone’s mind. We have been hearing about it for 3 years and we really look forward to the actual construction of something. For something like this it may take up to 5 years to build once they get going. So let’s think about this, will they start next year? So we may have a system built, if we start in 2016, and then you should have a system built by 2021, in time for the 5G upgrades.

I guess I’m just impatient. All I want to do is deploy, deploy, and deploy!

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