Wednesday, January 24, 2018

FirstNet Colorado Update

On December 18th, Governor Hickenlooper made the decision, with the support of the FirstNet Colorado Governing Body (FNCGB), to “opt-in” to the proposed FirstNet state plan and have AT&T assume responsibility for the implementation of the FirstNet public safety broadband network (PSBN) in Colorado. It was a difficult decision for both the Governor and FNCGB, but after weighing the pros and cons of both options, eventually all parties agreed that opting-in was the only viable option presented to Colorado.

Now that the opt-in decision has been made, the FirstNet Colorado team is committed to helping stakeholders understand what an opt-in decision means for Colorado and its first responders. From a practical perspective, ‘FirstNet’ will become a service offering within AT&T. The full AT&T ‘public safety’ service offerings should be enabled in Spring 2018. If you haven’t already, you will likely be receiving inquiries from AT&T representatives marketing the service. Please feel free to contact them directly if interested.

Other commercial carriers are offering public safety grade services on their networks as well. They may be contacting your agency directly to market these services; feel free to speak to them too.

The opt-in decision by the Governor does not mandate that an agency or responder must use the service. Therefore, local jurisdictions can make the decision that’s best for their agency. This could be based on service, pricing and specific capabilities offered by the various carriers that will be providing public safety grade services. The FirstNet Colorado team is available as a resource to Colorado’s public safety agencies as they begin navigating the evolving PSBN landscape.

In regards to FirstNet Colorado, our team will continue to be the state-level liaison with FirstNet and AT&T and support you in any way we are capable. The FNCGB will continue to act as a statewide accountability mechanism and adjust the group’s focus based on the needs of Colorado’s stakeholders and your input. Moving forward, we will move to quarterly public meetings with official agendas, meeting minutes and recordings shared on YouTube. Additionally, one of the requirements set by the Governor for the opt-in decision, was to hold semi-annual ‘Operational Reviews’ between FirstNet, AT&T and Colorado, to address PSBN deployment and related concerns. We will be working to define the structure of these reviews, everything that they will entail and share that information with all stakeholders. We welcome input regarding the Operational Review process.

The team will also be transitioning its focus to be broader and more inclusive of the broadband needs across Colorado. As mentioned, we will continue to be the primary state conduit for feedback and interaction with AT&T and FirstNet but will also be venturing into some new efforts. The team will become more integrated with the State Broadband Office (SBO) supporting the other efforts (rural and institutional broadband availability) and also expanding the programs of the SBO. Some of the specific programs we will focus on include: technology transition within public safety communications, development of a “Critical Communications” initiative in the state that combines public safety, transportation, 9-1-1, public health, etc., and working on facilitating enhanced data sharing across entities as technologies evolve. The team will continue to do outreach, education, and hold various events highlighting the previously mentioned focus areas. For example, we are currently working with the Mountain Connect Conference (http://www.mountainconnect.org) to develop a public safety/critical communications track at the 2018 conference.

We will soon be taking down the FirstNet Colorado website (http://www.firstnetcolorado.org) and integrating our web presence with the existing Colorado Broadband website (http://broadband.co.gov). This website will include a feedback form for FirstNet users to communicate their experiences, good or bad, with the network and help us to ensure the the best possible implementation within Colorado.

We will be rolling out our specific vision and programmatic approach very soon with additional details and specifics. This will include upcoming events, working groups and other initiatives. We will continue to base our efforts on the belief that we must work together, from the ground-up, in order to support Colorado’s broadband efforts and goals.

If you would like more information on the FirstNet decision and how the service might impact you, the team is available to talk with your jurisdiction, region, and organization. We have had productive discussions with a few jurisdictions already. Contact our team and we’ll come out to wherever you are.

Lastly, I would like to thank the FNC team, the FNCGB and all the other stakeholders who dedicated their time and energy to this endeavor over the past 5 years. Your commitment and effort have been invaluable, and have set the stage for continued cooperation and coordination across Colorado.


Thank you!

-Brian

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