This is the third in a series of blog reports on FirstNet’s role in and observations from the five “Early Builder” (EB) public safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network projects. The EBs include four National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees in New Jersey, Adams County (Colorado), the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS), and New Mexico, as well as Harris County (Texas), which is being funded through other grants and local contributions. FirstNet has entered into a Spectrum Manager Lease Agreement (SMLA) with each Early Builder (EB) that enables the EB to access the public safety spectrum in the 700 Megahertz band to deploy broadband communications capabilities for emergency responders.
The Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) is being developed to provide voice, video, and data communications for providers of public safety services in the greater Los Angeles region. It is comprised of two independent projects: a Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communications system and a Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband communications network. The LTE network will provide wireless broadband data for first responders.
Under the NTIA BTOP grant program, LA-RICS will design, construct, own, operate, and maintain the LTE network. In terms of the network design, 231 potential monopole LTE sites were originally identified throughout LA County, although the final network will include fewer sites. LA-RICS projects that it will complete construction and system implementation, and begin operation of the network, later this year.
Once built, the network is projected to cover more than 70 cities and the unincorporated area of LA County within a 4,084 square-mile area. Project managers estimate it will be able to serve more than 50 law enforcement agencies; 30 fire departments; and a number of emergency medical services (EMS).
In terms of key learning conditions, as defined in our Spectrum Manager Lease Agreement (SMLA) with LA-RICS, the project will focus on Priority/Pre-emption and Quality of Service (QoS) issues once the network is operational. Specifically, these key learning conditions include:
- Defining and ensuring network mechanisms are in place to alert the network operator of network congestion events that impact user perceived degradation of QoS or invoke pre-emption
- Testing/validation of key National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) Priority and QoS Requirements and Assessment of Priority/QoS operational management alternatives
In addition to these key learning conditions, LA-RICS has experienced challenges associated with building on existing public safety properties and infrastructure. FirstNet intends to leverage these lessons learned – as well as those of the other EB projects - to inform the design, planning, deployment, and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network. FirstNet would like to recognize NTIA for their continued work with the BTOP projects and thank them for helping facilitate FirstNet’s successful implementation of the nationwide network.