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California is known for its booming entertainment industry in Los Angeles, its large military presence around San Diego, and its world-renowned tech center in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Despite its many urban areas, fully 80 percent of the state is rural or remote, including the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mojave Desert area, and the state’s coastal regions and large swaths of farmland, including vineyards in wine country. In recent years, first responders have faced natural disasters including earthquakes, severe thunderstorms, and massive, deadly wildfires that have put communications to the test. 

The First Responder Network Authority team recognizes the unique communications challenges that California first responders face. We have been working closely with California public safety officials since 2014, capturing their feedback and translating it into the design of the FirstNet network. During the development of state deployment plans, our team worked hand-in-hand with California leaders to ensure the plan was customized to address their needs, including:

  • Expanding coverage for rural and tribal areas
  • Offering unique features, such as dedicated quality of throughput and priority and preemption over commercial users, and discounted pricing for agencies and individual public safety subscribers
  • Integrating radio sites from the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) early builder project, adding more than 70 Band 14 sites in Los Angeles County

Following this close collaboration, California chose to adopt the plan and “opt in” to FirstNet. Today, we continue to meet regularly with state and local officials to discuss their public safety broadband needs. In 2019 alone, our team met with various California public safety officials more than 85 times. Our engagements in California included the Southwest Border Communication Working Group, the Northern and Southern Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (NAPCO) and California Public Safety Radio Association) Chapter Meetings, California Fire Chief’s Association Tech Summits, regional communications systems meetings, FIRESCOPE Communications Specialist Group, USFS Region 5 California Incident Management Team sessions, and a wildfire exercise organized by the Grizzly Flats Pioneer Fire District. Engagements like these are crucial to the ongoing success of the network and the advancement of public safety communications across the state and the nation.

Connect with our team of Public Safety Advisors to learn about FirstNet in your community.

California's FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor

Kevin Nida headshot
Kevin Nida

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Outdated and unreliable communications have slowed down our public safety response for far too long. In an industry where every second matters, it’s about time that we change the face of public safety communications. We can’t predict when the next emergency will strike, but with FirstNet, we can be better prepared to respond, recover and keep our people safe.
Ray Riordan
Director of the San José Office of Emergency Management

FirstNet in Action in California

  • Thunderbird and Whale was the first-ever national-level exercise fully planned and executed by tribal nations. Lynda Zambrano, Executive Director of the National Tribal Emergency Management Council, recounts her team’s approach to the exercise and how they maximized resources to benefit tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Every day, the men and women of law enforcement protect and serve our communities. Officers interact with many people every day, and each individual has unique needs. Law enforcement agencies, like the Folsom Police Department in California and the Seattle Police Department in Washington, are turning to innovative technology and applications to provide individualized support to people in crisis. FirstNet is supporting this innovation through its secure, reliable network and a catalog of apps for first responders.