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High-speed network for first responders raises concerns

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milf

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AT&T is NOT about to lose a penny. Any linking takes away them as SOLE PROVIDER of FirstNet. Baddaboom, baddabing, its still just a money thing.
 

BR1207

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I run the FirstNet account for my dept. I also use FirstNet for my personal phone, because I'm often in a direct response role, and sometimes my phone is all I have with me.

There's a lot of misinformation in this thread, mixed with some good information.

First, as said already, FirstNet is simply a separate LTE system core, dedicated to public safety, and with access to Band 14. It is not a replacement for LMR in any way that cell phones aren't already. In my experience, it also hasn't diverted any traffic from our existing VHF and 700/800 P25 systems. Trunked digital radios are still our first and primary means of communicating, and when those fail or we need broader interop, we still go to VHF. There's also the issue of direct communication, talkaround, that only LMR offers. There just isn't a reliable, high-availability replacement for LMR, and nothing else even approaches the communication efficiency of a broadcast to anyone and everyone with their ears on. You remember the kid's game "telephone?" Well, there's a reason it was called telephone and not "radio," and cell phones just can't replace radios, at least not right now.

Also mentioned already is the fact that this is designed to protect the communication needs of public safety agencies in the event of a panic and public system overload, which happens regularly, actually. That and guaranteed interoperability are the stated purpose of FirstNet.

Something I haven't seen anyone comment on is the increased reliance of public safety on high speed data. Like every organization and nearly every person in America, we use data for even the simplest things now. The most obvious area is that nearly all of our assets have cellular-based transponders on them now, which allows us to see who, what, when, where etc. almost in real time. This makes everyone safer in ways that aren't in the scope of this discussion. In addition, much of our dispatch system is done via data now, providing current information on any given emergency, as well as access to map overlays and the previously mentioned asset tracking. FirstNet is designed not only to provide a stable voice system, but also a stable data system for public safety.

All this talk about Verizon is funny, because Verizon didn't even bother to submit a bid. Nobody but AT&T did. AT&T got the contract because they're the only ones who bid on it.

Every state has the option to participate in FirstNet, or not. If they choose not to participate, they are required to implement an equivalent system with the ability to interop with FirstNet. That's not AT&T being greedy, but rather it is the whole point of the system.

I've heard that some states didn't get much rural infrastructure in their contract. Texas, on the other hand, refused to participate unless AT&T agreed to massive improvements in rural coverage as part of the deal. It's kinda hard to have a national system if the largest state in the country, right smack in the middle of it, with the second largest population, and probably the largest and most widespread rural population, isn't going to agree to a contract. FirstNet only made sense for TX if rural coverage was improved, and AT&T was forced to agree to make those improvements. AT&T's service in rural TX is already quite a bit better as a result, and they're only about 25% of the way through their upgrade.

Families are not given access to FirstNet, only public safety organizations and individual credentialed first responders. My personal phone plan costs a bit less on FirstNet than it used to, but once you add in all the taxes and fees and whatnot, it's not a huge difference, actually.

Families are not "directed" to discounted plans, either. The only benefit to the family plans is that they don't lose their family plan discount, if they had one. As mentioned earlier, moving to FirstNet means a different SIM, and a separate voice/data plan. In many cases, removing that person's phone from their family plan would end up costing the family more money, so AT&T has agreed to credit the family with the equivalent of another line, for billing purposes, so that this doesn't destroy their multi-line discount.

I had no idea there was so much angst about FirstNet but I can tell you, first-hand, that it's just another tool in the box, and it hasn't really changed how we operate on a daily basis. What we hope it WILL do is help keep our systems running when all these paranoid people panic and bring the public networks down. That's all it is.
 

mmckenna

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AT&T got the contract because they're the only ones who bid on it.
Rivada also bid on the contract, but lost to AT&T.

I had no idea there was so much angst about FirstNet but I can tell you, first-hand, that it's just another tool in the box, and it hasn't really changed how we operate on a daily basis. What we hope it WILL do is help keep our systems running when all these paranoid people panic and bring the public networks down. That's all it is.
There's been a lot of fear and panic amongst the hobby crowd for quite a while. Unfortunately rumors seem to carry more weight than truth. There have been several of us attempting to address these rumors for the last 2 years or so, yet this topic keeps coming up.
 

milf

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IPSC (Indiana Public Safety Communications) is holding an presentation on FirstNet in the coming future (Per the IPSC Facebook page) as it is nearing the final stages of being ready for full implementation statewide. It has thus far stood up to the rigorous testing they have been doing. Actually impressively so. Lets pray it does what it is supposed to if an actual event makes its mass use happen. Otherwise it will be a good tool in the data transfer abilities for Indiana State Police, then all other Public Safety statewide. Two years of testing and buildout and more testing... The right way to implement a large project.
 

RedneckHippy

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in the UK, nobody has access to emergency radio, and the benefit to the user services is total privacy. it's secure and the bad guys don't know when they're being targeted and talked about. Our press and media have never been allowed to listen in, although many did when it was in the clear. Of course the hobbyists were cross, but nowadays the notion people can listen into the Police, Fire and Ambulance is simply gone. Even worse, we now have personal data rules that mean anyone who has personal data on another cannot communicate it. Nobody could pass a name and address in a way that others could listen in - it would be illegal. It's had no negative impact, and while appreciate that in the US, your rights are very different, it has to come eventually.
 

mmckenna

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I have also wondered if the end game for FirstNet is Public Safety PTT. I remember seeing this LTE portable radio a while back and wondering if this was the direction things were going. In the UK I think all public safety nationwide is on a commercial system.
I have no doubts that somewhere in the huge corporate world of AT&T, there are those that see FirstNet becoming the solution for PTT for public safety.
FirstNet will tell you that isn't their plan, but I think if there is enough interest from departments that don't know any better and if there is enough money, they'll change their tune.

But, as I'm sure you know, it will currently support some PTT. The trouble is the inherent delay in call set up. Also, what happens when you are out of range. It becomes the old "shoot" scenario. If I key up a FirstNet device and say "Don't Shoot!", what does the person on the other end hear? Do they hear the whole message, "Don't shoot!", or does call set up delay and poor user training cause them to only hear "Shoot!"?

Might be fine for administrative type use, but not for anything life safety. Overcoming the inherent delays in PTT over LTE is likely going to take a lot of work, as it stands right now, it's not going well, but I suspect things will change.

As for the traditional LMR radios with LTE in them...
One direction that is going is to allow the radios to fall back on voice over LTE when they get out of range of their LMR trunked system. When the radio notices the control channel is no longer there, it can switch to LTE and link back to a gateway into the radio system. Same delay issues as above, but for a well trained user in non-critical situations, it can work.

Remember, there were a number of departments that were dumb enough to jump on Nextel when it came out. That didn't go well.
 

GTR8000

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Remember, there were a number of departments that were dumb enough to jump on Nextel when it came out. That didn't go well.
And Nextel had a lot more in common with traditional LMR than LTE does, but it still was not a great idea relying on a commercial service provider. In fact, iDEN was trunked radio technology, with Nextel operating a (mostly) nationwide TDMA system. Connecting to the PTSN to provide telephone service over the network was an afterthought; it was always about the DirectConnect PTT service first and foremost.
 

mmckenna

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it was always about the DirectConnect PTT service first and foremost.
My brother was on Nextel when it first started off, before they tried to make it a cellular telephone service. It worked pretty well and sounded pretty good. He had one of the R750 handsets.
 
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DaveNF2G

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Perhaps NASA could use FirstNet for PTT. They are used to delays between transmissions.
 

milf

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My brother was on Nextel when it first started off, before they tried to make it a cellular telephone service. It worked pretty well and sounded pretty good. He had one of the R750 handsets.
And then there is the State of AL and Southern Linc, which is iDEN 800 MHz..... Still being used by a few agencies as it is cheaper still than getting on the still growing AFRRN P25 system.... Not that bad a service, BUT so lacking in the true Public Safety communications needs... But thats life.
 

kayn1n32008

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And then there is the State of AL and Southern Linc, which is iDEN 800 MHz..... Still being used by a few agencies as it is cheaper still than getting on the still growing AFRRN P25 system.... Not that bad a service, BUT so lacking in the true Public Safety communications needs... But thats life.
Did they not shut down iDEN and transition to LTE?


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milf

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Did they not shut down iDEN and transition to LTE?


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No they still use iDEN for most sites. Some have transitioned to LTE, but most still run 20K0F7W , not 3M00W7W
 

12dbsinad

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You will see Southern Linc's iDEN sites plug pulled very shortly in favor of their CriticalLinc LTE network. It takes time to transition. Something that is going to plague FirstNet LTE. AT&T better get ready for snail speed subscriber upgrades with public safety. It isn't the consumer market..
 

William2910

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A bit off topic but I'm still not quite sure about some of the basics of FirstNet

The area where I am in emergency services has poor AT&T service. Are they building new towers just for FirstNet or will AT&T poor areas be just as poor

They are also advertising FirstNet as specifically for emergency responders and their families. What type of access do the families have and is it any different then what the general public could get on Band 14?
We currently have a few on the firstnet using the devices. While handy the area is still in need of upgrades and currently data for images, video is slow on them and only complaint so far. Eventually att said they'll solve the issue with more sites.
 

darkness975

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We're very private when we need to be here. Lots of legislation exists to make sure what is secret, remains secret.
That's hilarious considering there are cameras every 3 feet in the UK and yet the truth of what is really happening in so many arenas is surprisingly non existent and kept from the citizens.

Anyway, Firstnet is the death of the hobby.
 
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