FirstNet sets up lab for US wireless project

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

The US First Responder Network Authority has set up a lab ahead of appointing AT&T or Rivada to build a $6.5bn emergency services network

FirstNet, the US government body that is about to appoint a wholesale wireless network for emergency services, has set up its innovation and test laboratory.

The organisation – officially the First Responder Network Authority – will provide a facility for it and its future private industry partner to test public safety features, devices, and apps before they are deployed on the nationwide public safety broadband network.

FirstNet is expected to appoint a private company to build the nationwide network shortly. AT&T and Rivada Mercury are the two declared bidders for the 25-year contract, which has a budget of more than $6.5 billion in the first year alone.

“The opening of our lab is a great accomplishment for FirstNet in our efforts to deploy public safety’s network and we’re proud to open it ahead of schedule and under budget,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “This will enable FirstNet to get advanced technology into the hands of our first responders and help them save lives and secure communities.”

FirstNet will provide LTE-based spectrum to emergency services across the US, with the aim of allowing the different networks to communicate with one another. Spectrum that is unused will be made available on a wholesale basis to wireless operators, though it will be shut down as soon as it is needed by first responders.

The new lab, at FirstNet’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, will be used to conduct validation and verification testing for the network, services and features, and aid future research and development related to public safety broadband technologies.

According to FirstNet this testing will help reduce the time to field test and deploy public safety features of the network, including quality of service; priority; pre-emption; and other future mission-critical services and applications.

FirstNet said that the lab is now in service with all the utilities needed for the partner to install its equipment and begin testing as soon as it is appointed.