'First Net' to give wireless broadband network to first responde - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

'First Net' to give wireless broadband network to first responders

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In December, Colorado became the 40th state to 'opt-in' to a wireless broadband network for first-responders. 

By the end of the year every state, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also opted into the program.

'FirstNet' is a division of the Department of Commerce, in a partnership with AT&T first responder agencies will be able to get on a network allowing them to communicate easily when network usage may overload. 

The effort all began after the 9/11 attacks, when law enforcement had difficulty communicating with one another. 

In the 9/11 commission report, one of the final recommendations was to create a dedicated network for public safety communications. 

The headquarters for FirstNet is based in Reston, Virginia but the technology lab is based in Boulder, Colorado. 

In 2012 Public Safety lobbied for funding to create FirstNet in an effort to make the network happen. 

'We have our own licensed spectrum nationwide that was given to us as part of the law that created FirstNet,' said Jeff Bratcher, Chief Technology Officer and Director of Operations for FirstNet. 

An example of when something like this may be needed in Southern Colorado- The Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012. 

'There's so much going on especially during the evacuation of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood it was extremely difficult for us to talk to each other,' said Joe Ribeiro, the Chief of Police in Manitou Springs, who also serves on the governing body for FirstNet. 

The technology to make this happen involves something many people notice on their cell phones every day: long term evolution (LTE), which is the dominant broadband cellular technology. 

'When there are large scale events or there are a lot of people located in a cell site, a sector of a cell site Public Safety will get access through the FirstNet network with priority and preemption to the wireless network,' said Bratcher. 

In March of 2017, FirstNet awarded the contract to AT&T for a private-public partnership in order to deploy FirstNet. 

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