What is FirstNet?

What is the First Responder Network Authority? What frequency bands does FirstNet use?
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- everything RF

Nov 10, 2018

The First Responder Network Authority, also known as FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce whose mission is to deploy, operate, maintain, and improve a single, interoperable high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety in the United States.

After realizing the communications challenges during the response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission recommended the establishment of a wireless network specifically for public safety. Congress approved this request in 2012 and this led to the development First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

On February 22, 2012, the U.S Congress directed the FCC to allocate the D-Block (758-763 MHz / 788-793 MHz) to public safety for use in a nationwide broadband network. FirstNet is allowed to use both the existing public safety broadband spectrum (763-769 MHz/793-799 MHz) and the reallocated D Block. The U.S Congress also allocated up to $7 billion dollars to FirstNet to construct this nationwide public safety broadband network.

The First Responder Network Authority has selected AT&T as the nationwide public safety broadband network provider. AT&T is deploying public safety’s Band 14 spectrum as part of its FirstNet build. Band 14 represents 20 MHz of highly desirable spectrum in the 700 MHz band that provides good propagation in urban and rural areas and decent penetration into buildings.

Key Benefits of FirstNet Network:

  • This network supports voice, data, text and video communications.
  • Public safety personal will have dedicated access to this network in times of crisis, they will be preferred over commercial users. They will get priority, preemption and more network capacity.
  • Devices connected to this network – such as wearables, drones and vehicles – will relay near real-time information to improve situational awareness and will help first responders stay safe while they help others during both day-to-day operations and disaster response and recovery.