FirstNet was created to be a force-multiplier for first responders – to give public safety 21st century communication tools to help save lives, solve crimes and keep our communities and emergency responders safe. To do that, FirstNet will build a new Band Class 14 network designed to be reliable, functional, safe and secure, and provide optimal levels of operational capability at all times. For the first time, public safety communications will be based on commercial standards. This will bring the benefits of lower costs, consumer-driven economies of scale and rapid evolution of advanced communication capabilities.
The law that established FirstNet specified that the network shall be based on the minimum technical requirements on the commercial standards for Long Term Evolution (LTE) service. LTE is the evolution of a proven technology, which is now in its fourth generation. With each generation comes improvement in speed and functionality. Standards work to enhance and evolve 4G LTE is continuing on a global basis. FirstNet is involved in the standards process and working closely with public safety organizations to support the development of standards and functionality that meet the needs of the public safety users that FirstNet will serve. Much of the current focus is on an international set of standards that will allow FirstNet to offer mission-critical voice (MCV) when these capabilities become available. The same MCV technologies will then work across all standards-based equipment and networks worldwide.
FirstNet broadly defines its LTE network in distinct layers: Core Network, Transport Backhaul, Radio Access Network (RAN) and Public Safety Devices.