The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) Board yesterday (15 August) approved an US$82 million budget for operations in the 2020 fiscal year, focused on supporting public safety engagement, continued oversight of the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network, and future investments in the network.

An additional $82 million in reserves for operations and $145 million for reinvestment in support of FirstNet enhancement, coverage, and functionality, were also approved.

The FirstNet Authority expects to receive $120 million from AT&T (the mobile network operator that is building, operating and maintaining the FirstNet Network), in FY2020,according to a presentation that can be viewed here.

“The FirstNet Authority is an organization solely focused on public safety’s critical communications needs and what we can do with FirstNet to help address these needs,” said FirstNet Authority Board chair Edward Horowitz. “Today, the Board took action to support this important work as network deployment continues and we look toward future investments, programs, and activities to evolve the network with continued public safety engagement.”

The FirstNet Authority recently released its roadmap, which sets out its priorities for its programmes, activities, and investments in network improvements. The roadmap is organised around six domains:

  • Network core
  • Coverage and capacity
  • Situational awareness
  • Voice communications
  • Secure information exchange
  • User experience

According to a press release published in June by the FirstNet Authority, it conducted more than 600 engagements involving over 15,000 public safety representatives in 2019 to gather input for its roadmap.

On 12 August, the FirstNet Authority reported that nearly 9,000 public safety agencies and organisations have subscribed to FirstNet, accounting for more than 750,000 connections in service. In the same release, it said that AT&T and Assured Wireless Corporation are working together to develop high-power user equipment (HPUE) that will operate on Band 14 spectrum. Such equipment is expected to offer public safety users better range and indoor coverage.

Author: Sam Fenwick