Guam joins FirstNet first responder network
Hagåtña — Guam is participating in the FirstNet Radio Access Network, the communications network for America’s first responders designed to improve coordination among emergency responders during crisis without having to rely solely on commercial networks.
“Communication is critical when a typhoon or other disaster strikes our island,” Gov. Eddie Calvo said. “FirstNet is another step toward improving our connectivity amongst first responders, which enhances their safety as well as their ability to safeguard and respond to emergencies in our island community.”
In September, FirstNet delivered state buildout plans to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to FirstNet Responder Network Authority. All U.S. territories have until March 12, 2018 to decide whether or not to participate in the FirstNet Radio Access Network, the communications network for America’s first responders.
Calvo announced Guam’s participation on Thursday.
“With our participation in this nationwide program we’ll take a step to addressing our communications needs for first responders. Our geography here on Guam expands well beyond the popular hiking grounds in the hills and valleys of the south, it continues into miles of ocean surrounding our island,” Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio said.
FirstNet subscribers will have the ability to connect to the critical information they need to handle daily operations, emergency response as well as supporting large scale events such as the Guam Liberation Day festivities and the Guam Micronesia Island Fair that attract both local residents and visitors alike. The network also promises to enhance network coverage and efficient communications during natural disasters. And as new technologies become available, the network can usher in a new wave of dependable innovations and carries the potential future integration of NextGen 9-1-1.
Homeland Security Advisor George Charfauros said the system provides much needed capability and capacity to local first responder agencies in their requirements to serve and protect the community.
The First Responder Network Authority and AT&T will bring advanced tools that will help Guam’s first responders save lives and protect communities. FirstNet will transform the way Guam’s fire, police, emergency medical services (EMS), emergency management and other public safety personnel communicate and share information, according to a press release from Adelup.
FirstNet and AT&T worked with Guam to design a network solution with direct input from Guam and our public safety community. From our initial consultation meeting in October 2015 to continuous discussion with our public safety stakeholders, the FirstNet plan helped address the unique communication needs of the island, including:
· Stationing dedicated network assets on the island that can be deployed for expedited response and recovery efforts as needed;
· Improving coverage along critical coastal areas'
Providing increased resiliency, so first responders can be confident that the network will be there when they need it
“Governor Calvo’s decision for Guam to join FirstNet will provide needed benefits to our island’s first responders and improve overall emergency response and recovery,” said Charles Esteves, Office of Civil Defense administrator. “FirstNet provides a dedicated voice and data network for first responders, greatly increasing their ability to maintain communications and situational awareness during the most arduous times.”
FirstNet developed a multi-level, multi-year consultation program in partnership with Guam’s Single Point of Contact, currently Government of Guam Chief Technology Officer Frank Lujan, Jr, which included stakeholders from the Department of Homeland Security and local officials.
"Governor Calvo's formal notification to opt in with the Guam State Plan for the FirstNet deployment is a great leap forward for our first responders and GovGuam in providing the much needed leading edge technologies along with the hardening, resilience and integration of our broadband infrastructure to save lives in the island territory for the next 25 years,” Lujan said.
A state or territory that chooses to opt-out may build, operate, maintain, and improve the network within the “so long as the network is interoperable with FirstNet’s nationwide network and meets the criteria” set by the law.
“FirstNet is the communications network that public safety advocated for and deserves,” FirstNet’s Senior Advisor Bill Schrier wrote in an article posted on www.cta.tech
“Until now, public safety has relied on a patchwork of radio systems and commercial LTE networks. Radio systems vary from agency to agency and jurisdiction to jurisdiction; and commercial networks are prone to congestion and often unavailable in remote areas.”
Schrier said FirstNet will address the communication challenges with a single, secure, nationwide network running on a band of 700 Mhz spectrum dedicated to public safety and built to the same open, international standards of all LTE networks.
“And it can’t come soon enough. This year’s hurricane and wildfire seasons, along with a series of human-made tragedies, have tested responders and the communities they serve,” Schrier said. “FirstNet will improve response times for public safety and personal security for responders from coast-to-coast, in every territory, and in rural and urban areas, leading to safer and more secure communities.”