The core of FirstNet, heralded as a game changer for first responders, went live today, exactly one year after the public-private partnership to build it was launched.
FirstNet is the public communications network exclusively for first responders, developed as the result of a public-private partnership between AT & T and the First Responder Network Authority. It was the final recommendation of the 9/11 commission, and AT & T won the multi-billion dollar, 25-year contract to build and maintain the system after a tender process last year.
Ed Davis, former Boston police commissioner said:”Outdated communications capabilities are a threat to public safety. We’ve seen it repeatedly when disasters strike – from September 11, the Boston Marathon and Parkland. We’ve been advocating for the future of communications to bring us a modern solution that will empower us with next generation tools. And with FirstNet, that future is here, giving us an experience we can’t get on any commercial network.”
The core of the system, which has gone live today, is the first ever evolved packet core dedicated entirely to public safety. First responders have been using AT & T’s commercial core to reap FirstNet’s early benefits, but today’s milestone separates commercial traffic from public safety traffic and puts FirstNet closer to developing its advanced features for first responders.
The core has been described as the ‘brain and nervous system’ of the nationwide network, supporting the future mission-critical features that will be included in FirstNet. The LTE enhanced packet core infrastructure provides end-to-end encryption to keep public safety data secure, 24- hour monitoring on the security of the network and 99.9% end-to-end service availability. It will also incorporate local control for first responders and mission critical functions such as Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk and enhanced location-based services.
Scott Edson, executive director, Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communication System (LA-RICS) said: “This is what public safety has spent years advocating for. We knew giving first responders a network that they could truly call their own was possible from our work on LA-RICS – 1 of 5 FirstNet early builder projects. But to see public safety’s network core roar to life nationwide, well, there are no words for how meaningful that is. We at LA-RICS look forward to connecting our sites to the FirstNet network core.”
A T & T now plan to move a limited test set of first responders over to the new dedicated core, while the First Responder Network Authority completes its extensive testing. The final phase of testing is expected to be complete in April or May.
Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T – FirstNet said: “The launch of the network core comes a year into the FirstNet public-private partnership. It’s been a non-stop 12 months. And we’re proud of the quick progress we’ve made in this short timeframe, consistently delivering on or ahead of schedule. But bringing the FirstNet network core to life is one of the most exciting milestones yet.”