Public Safety LTE is a reality and happening right here in Texas. State of Texas/Harris County is one of five jurisdictions selected across the nation by FirstNet as an Early Builder. These jurisdictions have been granted spectrum leases by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and have systems which are either operational in test mode or under development using Band Class 14 spectrum.
- Adams County, Colorado
- State of Texas/Harris County, Texas (BIG-Net)
- LA RICS (Los Angeles Regional Interoperability Communications System)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
The Early Builders are vital to nationwide planning efforts. They will be instrumental in evaluating technical standards and capabilities, testing new equipment and end-user hardware, and developing "lessons learned" to be utilized by FirstNet and jurisdictions nationwide.
In 2008, Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast. Commercial carrier networks went down, and public safety personnel had to rely exclusively on voice communications using Land-Mobile Radio. In the wake of these events, Harris County recognized the need for reliable public safety broadband data communications to provide first responders access to critical data during emergency response. In 2009, they received a Port Security Grant in partnership with the Houston Ship Channel Security District to build the Broadband Interoperable Gateway Network, or BIG-Net. Network deployment began in 2012 and currently has 11 sites operational with 92 sites planned.
FirstNet is in the process of working with each of the Early Builders to define Key Learning Conditions (KLC). The KLCs for BIG-Net fall into five categories:
- Core Transition – Documenting issues associated with transitioning from the current Big-NET to the FirstNet core
- Data Analysis – Defining the ‘Public Safety user’ and the impact on the Public Safety Broadband Network (PSBN)
- Special Events – Identifying LTE abilities and requirements for National Special Security Events (NSSE)
- Extended Mode – Exploring LTE capabilities beyond a nominal 15 mile range
- Training – Identifying how enhanced LTE capabilities affect and improve First Responder training
Click here to learn more about BIG-Net, the nation’s first 700 MHz 4G LTE Public Safety Broadband Network.