It is estimated that there are potentially 5.4 million FIRSTNET Public Safety Users nationwide. FIRSTNET must provide service in all 50 states, 5 territories and Washington DC. It coverage will be 3.8M square miles, 60,000 public safety agencies, 3250 Counties and 566 Tribes. Estimates are that the network utilization will be:
- Law Enforcement 30%
- Fire Services 18%
- Medical Services 17%
- Federal Government 12%
- State Government 12%
- Utilities 11%
Coverage of the network will be a challenge. Coverage is divided into five types: dense urban, urban, suburban, rural and wilderness. Each offers a unique challenge to provide the coverage and maintain service.
4G LTE wireless technology is 10 times faster than 3G wireless technology. This will allow introduction of new innovative applications and network devices for public safety use. FIRSTNET is a DATA only network. While voice is currently on the horizon, mission critical voice will remain on the Land Mobile Radio Networks in use today.
Where is Utah in the Process?
Utah has established a Broad Band Subcommittee under the State Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC). Recent Legislation placed these responsibilities under the Utah Communications Authority (UCA) per House Bill 155 passed in January 2014. We have continued to actively work on preparing for the FIRSTNET process to come to Utah. The Broad Band Committee consists of:
- Kevin Rose, Statewide Interoperability Coordinator
- Barry Horsley, IT Manager. Carbon County
- Bert Granberg, Director. State AGRC (GIS)
- Bert Potts, Wireless Operations Manager. Strata Networks
- Bill Silver, Police Officer. Salt Lake City Police Department
- Brent Atkinson, Captain. Unified Police Department/Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office
- Bryan Low, IT Manager. Logan City
- Chris Burbank, Chief. Salt Lake City Police Department
- Denny Mecham, Project Manager. Strata Networks
- Doug Chandler, PMO. State of Utah DTS
- Ed Frazier, IT Director. Layton City
- Eric Parry, Program Manager. Utah 911 Committee
- Forrest Roper, Chief Deputy. Millard County Sheriff's Office
- Warren James, Battalion Chief. Unified Fire Authority
- Jeff Goodrich, Chief Operations Officer. Strata Networks
- John Laursen, Chief Deputy. Uintah County Sheriff's Office
- Justin Grenier, Operations Manager. St. George Police Department Communications
- Kelleigh Cole, Program Manager. Utah Broadband Advisory Council
- Lynne Yocom, Business Manager. State Department of Transportation
- Paul Patrick, Director. Utah Bureau of Emergency Medical Services
- Rick Bailey, Emergency Manager. Grand County
- Shirlee Silversmith, Director. Utah Department of Indian Affairs
- Steve Proctor, Executive Director. Utah Communications Authority
- Tamara Twitchell, Emergency Manager. Daggett County
- Travis Sylvester, Planner. Utah Communications Authority
Accomplishments of the Committee:
1. We have established a consistent meeting schedule.
2. We have attended Several Educational Symposiums on FIRSTNET and its process.
3. Utah received a $1.7M NTIA grant for the purpose of outreach and education.
4. We are awaiting further information material from FIRSTNET to start the outreach process.
5. We have applied with FIRSTNET for an initial consultation meeting to be scheduled sometime late summer 2014.
6. The SIEC Coordinator has made several presentations to statewide associations, groups and tribal organizations about FIRSTNET.
7. We are preparing for a data use survey to determine the basic needs and requirements of our public safety professionals.
This process is going to take several years to complete. The future network will have to be a cooperative venture between FIRSTNET, partner commercial providers and state and local governments. It will not be easy or quick. While the process is moving towards its end goal, Utah must continue to pursue support of its existing Land Mobile Radio Networks, and current utilization of commercially available data technologies. While sometime in the future the data portion of the service may transition to FIRSTNET, mission critical voice (radio) will continue to be the primary means of communications for public safety responders for the foreseeable future.