Federal Users

FirstNet for Federal Public Safety

About FirstNet and Federal Users

Federal departments and agencies that conduct and deliver public safety services can subscribe to FirstNet as primary users. For example, agency components conducting missions such as law enforcement, homeland security, border security and disaster response operations are integral parts of the public safety community and can subscribe to FirstNet.

FirstNet provides public safety officials with streamlined and interoperable communications to execute their missions while working with other public safety officials at all levels of government. FirstNet offers priority and preemption capabilities and coverage solutions for public safety communications, allowing public safety officials to avoid network congestion that occurs during emergencies. Public safety organizations have local control of all the users registered under their FirstNet subscription, which means they are able to control the mobile device management, onboarding, off-boarding, and prioritization of individual users. Additionally, during periods of high activity, incident commanders will also have the ability to adjust groups of people and applications as needed; FirstNet supports the National Response Framework (NRF), National Incident Management System (NIMS), and the Incident Command System (ICS), which remain the standards for coordination during emergency events.

There are currently 14 Federal departments and agencies represented through FirstNet’s Agency Point of Contact (APOC) group; APOCs work closely with FirstNet and help distribute information and any requests for data collection and feedback from FirstNet to the agency components and bureaus. FirstNet continues to engage the US Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and General Services Administration and welcomes other agencies with a public safety, emergency management, or homeland security mission segment to contact the Federal Consultation Team at FederalConsultation@FirstNet.gov about participation.

FirstNet consults with Federal agencies regarding the impact of critical policies and procedures for current and future FirstNet network operations, including issues about quality of service, priority and preemption (QPP) and cybersecurity/encryption requirements, as well as acquisition and procurements. FirstNet also works to continue the dialog regarding opportunities and challenges with coverage objectives, eligible users, and quality of service, priority and preemption for public safety officials.

FirstNet is governed by a 15-member Board that includes the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General of the United States, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and 12 other members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce.

Representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Department of Justice (DOJ) are full members of the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) and serve as co-chairs to FirstNet’s Federal Working Group (FWG). The FWG is convened, on an ad hoc basis, to bring together the expertise and perspective of Federal partners and provide input to the PSAC’s recommendations to the FirstNet Board.

To provide additional data or feedback, contact the FirstNet Federal Consultation Team at FederalConsultation@FirstNet.gov

FAQs from a Federal Perspective

FirstNet is continuing to work with agencies on acquisition processes that would need to be in place for those agencies to acquire FirstNet goods and services.  FirstNet and FirstNet’s partner, AT&T, are still working on the details, but we anticipate there will be a variety of ways to procure FirstNet services and devices. Your agency’s AT&T representative will have information concerning FirstNet as well.

Currently, FirstNet is available on GSA Schedule 70, and AT&T is reaching out to current subscribers to discuss their interest in modifying existing contracts or future subscription to FirstNet.

The decision to subscribe to FirstNet remains with agencies and is, in part, based on how the agency acquires IT goods and services. FirstNet aims to provide Federal agencies with operational value and efficiencies by delivering secure, resilient, interoperable public safety wireless broadband beyond what is currently available.  Components within agencies should assess the FirstNet solution against their mission requirements and decide the best solution for their operational elements.

Please contact FirstNet’s Federal Consultation Team at FederalConsultation@FirstNet.gov to discuss your agency’s interest in partnering with FirstNet and AT&T to use your existing infrastructure to: (1) bring FirstNet coverage to your operational areas sooner, and/or (2) negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement for FirstNet services. Leveraging existing infrastructure will be dependent upon where the FirstNet network has a presence and the business case and sustainability of extending into other operational areas.

There will be enhanced voice applications available on the network beginning with the initial deployment phase. Overall, FirstNet is delivering a standards-based capability aligning with 3GPP standards. In 2016, 3GPP “froze” LTE Release 13, which includes MCPTT standards. FirstNet continues to work through the 3GPP on standards for other mission-critical capabilities and is also working with the NIST Public Safety Communications Research Lab (PSCR) to accelerate the delivery of MCPTT to public safety. FirstNet aims to offer MCPTT on the FirstNet network in March 2019. 

As the next step in preparing for MCPTT for the Network, FirstNet will conduct significant testing of MCPTT with AT&T at the FirstNet Innovation and Test Lab in Boulder to ensure it meets the needs of public safety, especially in an operational capacity.  This will give public safety the opportunity to use it alongside the other MCPTT capabilities they have and start to build trust in it.  It will be completely up to public safety agencies on how and when they want to operationalize MCPTT over LTE.

FirstNet will provide mission critical, high-speed data services and, initially, non-mission-critical voice services to compliment Land Mobile Radio (LMR). When the FirstNet network is deployed, reliable and resilient managed broadband services can result in cost savings to agencies. We anticipate agencies will assess mission requirements and choose to shift some non-mission-critical voice operations to FirstNet. As Mission Critical LTE capabilities and services are deployed within the FirstNet network, agencies may reevaluate their level of adoption and what FirstNet services can be utilized. FirstNet is interested in working with the agencies to explore cost-savings that might occur and, at the same time, preserve and strengthen operational capability of the agency.

FirstNet services are available nationwide to Federal public safety agencies that subscribe to AT&T on all AT&T LTE bands.  While FirstNet will not initiate buildout of the Radio Access Network (RAN) or Band 14 within any state prior to the state’s governor choosing to opt-in to the FirstNet proposed state plan, Federal FirstNet subscribers have access to Priority and Quality of Service now and Preemption services by the end of 2017.

These discussions are taking place, but the cost of FirstNet services and devices will be competitive. Because no public safety entity is required to use FirstNet, we must demonstrate value and offer competitive pricing to earn customers. Actual rates will be made available to customers once states opt-In and AT&T is able to negotiate contracts. AT&T-FirstNet representatives will be available to discuss rates and services, and we will work to earn your business.

An agency can continue using AT&T compatible devices in FirstNet’s initial operating capability. These devices do not need to be Band 14 capable as AT&T has offered FirstNet customers use of all AT&T LTE bands. This will include priority and quality of service (upon a governor’s decision to have FirstNet build, operate and maintain the RAN within his or her state borders) and is expected to include preemption capabilities by end of 2017.

Yes. AT&T will offer many deployable solutions to FirstNet subscribers to meet coverage needs in areas where additional and/or temporary coverage is required to support planned and unplanned public safety operations.

If you are a FirstNet customer, you can request assets just like other FirstNet customers. The policies and processes for accessing deployable equipment are still being finalized.

The FCC oversees cross-border negotiations with Mexico. A team consisting of FCC and State Department personnel has been created to handle broadband discussions and, ultimately, the new agreement with Mexico. These meetings are currently in progress. Exact coverage will not be known until opt-in decisions have been made by the states and the individual contracts have been developed with public safety entities. There are discussions taking place to include infrastructure sharing and leveraging existing assets to ensure that the necessary coverage is available to cover the mission essential areas, including along the border.

Canada’s first responders and other stakeholders have been working toward the goal of a reliable, modern nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network (PSBN), but Canada remains in the very early stages of establishing their PSBN. There is yet to be a governance body established.

Canada has $3 Million allotted to begin some high-level consultation activities on the construct of the governance and business approach. It is very interested in ensuring cross border interoperability is part of the solution. The FCC is in a better place now to continue discussions with Canada on spectrum coordination and spectrum access, but the intent is for this to mirror the coordination between commercial carriers.

Additionally, FirstNet continues to consult with Federal agencies to collect coverage objectives specifically related to geographical areas, including the southwestern and northern border regions and coastal and interior waterways, which will be shared with AT&T in an effort to ensure that FirstNet’s capabilities meet public safety objectives.

Yes. Through the FirstNet network, public safety will have prioritized (and, when needed, preemptive) communications over a reliable, hardened LTE data network. FirstNet’s primary users are not pre-emptible.

Due to AT&T’s extensive coverage and inclusion of all available AT&T LTE frequency bands, network saturation at a local level by public safety officials is highly unlikely. Should such events occur, the network would utilize a dynamic controller for the application of quality of service, priority and preemption policies along with local control capabilities that provide additional flexibility during critical events. Additionally, LTE networks are designed with overlaps and resiliency so that a public safety user may be moved to another sector, another tower, an alternative communications path such as WiFi, vehicle router relay, or a deployable asset to help ensure device connectivity.

To learn who in your department or agency works with FirstNet or to express interest in learning more about or subscribing to FirstNet, please contact FirstNet’s Federal Consultation Team at federalconsultation@firstnet.gov.

FirstNet Liaisons

FirstNet Liaisons
  • Charlotte Whitacre
    Regions 6 7 9

    Office: 571-665-6062
    Mobile: 202-631-3323

  • Tiffany Perry
    Regions 3 4

    Office: 571-665-6048
    Mobile: 202-430-3517

  • Christopher Algiere
    Regions 1 2 5 8 10

    Office: 571-665-6034
    Mobile: 202-763-6669

  • US Department of Agriculture
  • US Department of Commerce
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of Energy
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • General Services Administration
  • US Department of Health and Human Services
  • US Department of Homeland Security
  • US Department of the Interior
  • US Department of Justice
  • US Department of Labor
  • US Department of State
  • US Department of Transportation
  • US Department of the Treasury
  • US Capitol Police

FirstNet Scenarios

The following documents examine scenarios where Federal users perform important public safety functions and how FirstNet could support those missions in the future. These scenarios are not meant to be prescriptive, but to show the possibilities of FirstNet – with the full understanding that many other factors such as coverage, technology maturity, and operational protocols will serve as key decision points for your department or agency.

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