There is discussion in the 9-1-1 community regarding FirstNet and how it might relate to Next Generation 9-1-1. Here in Florida, we recently received a formal briefing on FirstNet.
As a reminder- in the world of the First Responder, the current Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system for voice will remain. The initial FirstNet deployments will be data only.
Disclaimer- The following are my personal thoughts.
FirstNet may become much more than a wireless network. They have the ability to become THE leader in specialized public safety applications, applications that could be used by First Responders nationwide, regardless of whether their state has chosen to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’.
There is also the potential that they could host existing software applications, maybe providing a value add by obtaining a larger volume licensing agreement from the vendor, an incentive to utilize the FirstNet Core.
In ‘NextGen’ 9-1-1, voice is an application. By this I mean that it utilizes SIP (session initiation protocol), which operates at Layer 7, the application layer of the OSI model. Translation- voice is an application.
FirstNet could offer VOICE services for the 9-1-1 community. Simply add a hosted voice server to the graphic above. This could be of tremendous value, especially to those states (mostly home rule) who are still putting together their NextGen 9-1-1 strategy. FirstNet needs a core backbone network, why not provide voice services? Voice uses very little bandwidth.
The other aspect is that this lays the foundation for a real Public Safety Broadband Network. We do not need to pay for and operate TWO networks- it certainly does not happen in the business world.
Connecting from the core network to the 9-1-1 center (PSAP), it would make sense to have two types of connections, one land based and one wireless. Diversity..
And the critical aspect of security– we expect to utilize pictures and videos on the FirstNet wireless network. What better way to control the pictures and videos planned to be coming inbound to 9-1-1? Have them ‘land’ in the FirstNet core, when they can be dealt with and controlled prior to potentially being pushed out to First Responders.
Intrado (now West) pioneered the concept of hosted 9-1-1 services and the use of LTE wireless as a backup for 9-1-1 Centers (PSAPs). It’s all possible.
Instead of congress funding a separate NextGen 9-1-1 initiative, maybe there could be incremental funding to FirstNet to include the NextGen 9-1-1 services.