FirstNet’s Operational Architecture: The Scope of the NPSBN

September 11, 2015
FirstNet’s Operational Architecture displayed during Industry Day on August 27, 2015.
FirstNet’s Operational Architecture displayed during Industry Day on August 27, 2015.

By Zachary Smith, FirstNet Emergency Management Specialist & Jennifer Falvey, Telecom Policy Specialist

At the FirstNet Industry Day on August 27th, we presented our analysis of the inputs we received regarding the Operational Architecture of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). This analysis was based upon over 10,000 comments from across industry, states, tribes, local governments and agencies. The input varied widely and provided us yet another reminder of both the complexity of, and the need for, the NPSBN.

FirstNet comprehensively reviewed and analyzed all input regarding the Operational Architecture, including an iterative study of all perspectives. We identified areas of both general consensus and significant disagreement. We conducted a diligent review of each function, weighing the benefits and costs from each point of view, including Public Safety, Industry, and FirstNet. We also took into consideration the expertise that resides in the States and Industry, as well as the technical, financial, programmatic, and contracting expertise that resides within FirstNet.

The result of this process led to FirstNet releasing the updated Operational Architecture that incorporates all inputs provided. We believe this Operational Architecture to be the most accurate version, to date, of the scope of FirstNet. There are some changes to note. First, the number of functions has increased from 615 to 647. Second, numerous titles have been updated to provide clarity and be more descriptive. Third, many definitions have been updated to reflect a more action-oriented function, versus a simple definition of the task. Fourth, this version indicates ownership of functions unlike the version released with the Special Notice. This ownership is based on feedback and our analysis.

We hope that these documents will assist both States and Industry in planning for FirstNet. As we continue to march towards the request for proposals (RFP) release later this year, the Operational Architecture will continue to evolve. FirstNet continually gains insight into the needs of Public Safety through State Consultations and data collection, and as our understanding grows, it may affect the Operational Architecture along with the rest of the RFP documentation. In addition, there are areas of the Operational Architecture, such as cyber security, where FirstNet may provide more fidelity based on the inputs received from the upcoming Special Notice for cyber security and the draft Appendix C-10 Cyber Security Objectives.

The FirstNet team is striving on a daily basis to prepare an RFP that will meet Public Safety’s telecommunications needs and the FirstNet mission. The Operational Architecture allows us to communicate the scope of the functions we believe are required to meet FirstNet’s 16 objectives. We want to personally thank everyone who provided input into the Operational Architecture and emphasized the importance of accurately portraying the scope and breadth of FirstNet and building the NPSBN. You can find the updated Operational Architecture on the Federal Business Opportunity site ( by searching for either FirstNet or D15PS00295B.


-Zach and Jen

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