Tuesday, March 27, 2018

FirstNet's Dedicated Evolved Packet Core Goes Live

AT&T confirmed that the dedicated evolved packet core for FirstNet is now live nationwide.

FirstNet is the country’s first nationwide public safety communications platform dedicated built by AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority.

The FirstNet network core is built on physically separate hardware from the AT&T network. It provides first responders with their own separate, nationwide broadband network and it is being certified by the First Responder Network Authority. The packet core forms the basis for the unified, interoperable and nationwide communications system.

First responders on the FirstNet evolved packet core can now access "First Priority", which turns FirstNet’s always-on access to priority and preemption up a notch, giving first responders 2 more priority levels. With 3 options at their fingertips, public safety agencies will have the ability to assign priority levels based on their command structure or shifting needs. The launch also unlocks an Incident Management Portal, which allows official to uplift critical users to the highest priority levels. Using the Incident Management Portal, they can make these adjustments in near real time to help first responders.  Public safety can also temporarily uplift other non-first responder users that are essential to managing an incident – like utilities or transportation. Future public safety capabilities will include mission-critical Push-to-Talk, z-Axis location-based services, etc.

A controlled introduction is now underway. A number of FirstNet-ready devices have been announced, including popular mobile devices like the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+, and rugged mobile devices like the Sonim XP8 and XP5s (coming soon). The FirstNet SIM will also work with other devices, but firmware updates may be required.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile router – a mobile hotspot router – is another product that will accept the FirstNet SIM.

“This is what public safety has spent years advocating for,” said Scott Edson, executive director, Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communication System (LA-RICS). “We knew giving first responders a network that they could truly call their own was possible from our work on LA-RICS – 1 of 5 FirstNet early builder projects. But to see public safety’s network core roar to life nationwide, well, there are no words for how meaningful that is. We at LA-RICS look forward to connecting our sites to the FirstNet network core.”

“Outdated communications capabilities are a threat to public safety. We’ve seen it repeatedly when disasters strike – from September 11, the Boston Marathon and Parkland,” said Ed Davis, former Boston police commissioner. “We’ve been advocating for the future of communications to bring us a modern solution that will empower us with next generation tools. And with FirstNet, that future is here, giving us an experience we can’t get on any commercial network.