In a world where technology trends are ever changing, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) and our network contractor, AT&T, are working diligently to deliver a dedicated public safety broadband network. In addition to a reliable and secure connection, we are working with AT&T to build a diverse device ecosystem that will meet the needs of public safety. There is an extensive range of devices available to FirstNet users across all public safety disciplines, which includes smartphones, tablets, routers, and modems that support FirstNet network capabilities and each discipline’s unique needs in all the environments responders serve.
Both off-the-shelf commercial devices and specialized public safety devices are available for use on FirstNet. Some public safety devices are built with dedicated push-to-talk functions. In the future, high-power user equipment will be developed for FirstNet, which can transmit at stronger signals. This signal increase can only be done using the FirstNet Band 14 spectrum. In addition to functionality, the FirstNet Authority is working to help ensure public safety is getting valuable devices that are cost-efficient and built to last through various procurement cycles.
FirstNet Device Approval Program
Devices must be certified for use on FirstNet. Once approved, devices with a FirstNet SIM Card enable first responders to connect to the dedicated FirstNet Core network, providing them public safety functions and features like priority and preemption. Many FirstNet devices also have built in access to Band 14.
In order to become approved for use on FirstNet, each device goes through the FirstNet Device Approval Program (DAP) before it is placed on the NIST list, which identifies devices for public safety use on the network. AT&T validates each device through its approval process to ensure it is compliant on the AT&T and FirstNet networks. AT&T validates the device can operate within the FirstNet ecosystem, as well as on Band 14. The device is also reviewed to ensure it meets the standard Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulatory certification and the PTCRB certification, which is a verification of conformance to meet Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specification standards. Once AT&T completes the carrier acceptance testing which includes validation of FirstNet specific device requirements, the FirstNet Authority accepts the technical acceptance letter from AT&T and NIST places the device on a growing list of approved devices. Currently there are more than 160 approved devices, with more than 100 of those devices supporting access to Band 14.
The FirstNet Authority and AT&T collaborate with manufacturers to bring public safety devices into the marketplace by working with vendors to ensure they meet the requirements to be considered for FirstNet approval. The vendor must meet FirstNet’s mandatory specifications, including Band 14 support and 3GPP mission critical standards.
In addition to working with manufacturers to bring devices into the FirstNet ecosystem, the FirstNet Authority operates the FirstNet Innovation and Test Lab , where FirstNet Authority engineers validate public safety functions and features. The FirstNet Lab is located at our Boulder, CO technology headquarters. In the future, we will be expanding our facility to into an experience center where first responders and other stakeholders can get hands-on use with public safety technologies. The future experience center will also be a place where we can continue to gather public safety input and feedback for the FirstNet Authority Roadmap, a plan that outlines priorities for critical communications needs. The Roadmap will help guide the FirstNet Authority’s programs, activities and investments.
The goal of FirstNet is to create a rich and diverse device ecosystem to meet the needs of public safety in challenging working environments, and we are delivering on it with a continuously growing devices portfolio. We look forward to bringing more innovation as we work together with public safety on the FirstNet Authority Roadmap activities by incorporating their feedback into our device roadmap and collaborating with AT&T.