FirstNet’s Conundrum

Posted by Sam Churchill on

FirstNet wants to build a dedicated nationwide LTE network for first responders. First Net is a stand alone LTE network that largely uses commercial cellular components. It supplements the push-to-talk voice network for cops and firefighters and is expected to cost taxpayers upwards of $25 Billion. AT&T and Verizon invested about $30 billion each in their LTE upgrades, notes Andrew Seybold — and they already had cell sites and infrastructure in place.

“The commercial carriers spend about $25 billion each year just keeping their systems up and running,” says FirstNet Board member Kevin McGinnis.

But it’s all about the apps. Public service apps will likely be first used on commercial LTE networks and may find a permanent home there, since FirstNet’s user fees may be headed for the sky.

FirstNet is supposed to receive $7 Billion from the incentive TV spectrum auctions, but it is certainly not enough to build out the network, according to Andrew Seybold. That means partners will be needed.

Whether public safety can “force” utilities and city agencies to pay more by switching to FirstNet for M2M and other services has yet to be determined. Those increased costs would likely be passed on (indirectly) to taxpayers to pay for FirstNet.

Alcatel-Lucent showcased broadband public service solutions with multi-agency interoperability at the International Wireless Communications Expo in Las Vegas last March. editor Glenn Bischoff got a demo of Alcatel-Lucent’s live applications, including facial recognition, a network connected media command table, and NG connected vehicles.

Motorola demoed the next generation of public safety, with the Connected Police Officer, a Real-Time Crime Center, the next-generation patrol vehicle, and integrated multimedia communications center.

Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) delivers the ability to read vehicle license plates and check them against an installed database for rapid identity verification.

Different people have different opinions about the viability of FirstNet. I suspect it will only help big cities. Wouldn’t the effectiveness of first responders be reduced if they’re required to pay for more expensive and less available FirstNet service?

The results of the 600 MHz auction next year are unknown. How much money the auction will generate for FirstNet is one issue. What new kinds of data services will be enabled by 600 MHz spectrum in the commercial band is another issue.

With 120MHz potentially available on the 600 MHz band, and 40 MHz available on Dish’s MSS spectrum (for dual-band sat/terrestrial phones), commercial carriers could beat FirstNet at its own game.

Commercial LTE providers, offering better service at lower cost, can outgun the “good guys” at any incident scene. Hotspot 2.0 will provide seamless roaming.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 enables Hotspot 2.0 and soon it will be on most smartphones.

FirstNet will be D.O.A.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FirstNet: Get Utilities to Pay for It, FirstNet Congressional Hearing, SF Public Service Net: In Trouble?, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Public Safety Spectrum Grab, Public Safety: Show Us The Money, Seattle’s Gigabit Fiber CityNet, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Municipal Networks: Good for Cities?, Genachoski : Gigabit Fiber in 50 States by 2015 , D-Block: It’s Done; Congress Pays, The 700MHz Network: Who Pays?, Big Bucks for 700 MHz Public Safety,

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, May 31st, 2013 at 8:47 am .

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