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Public Safety Broadband Market: Who's on FirstNet?

April 2013

Pages: 30

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Keywords: Public Safety Wireless, Public Safety LTE, Public Safety Wireless Interoperability, Public Safety Broadband


This report is an overview of telecom veteran Frank Ohrtman's impressions gained while attending FirstNet's first public board of directors meeting accompanied by a tour of the Public Safety Communications Research labs where evaluated platforms were on full display. If the success of FirstNet is to be judged by its stated goals, then FirstNet is not technically, financially or politically feasible. In addition, FirstNet is not a solution for rural broadband. On the other hand, the work of the Public Safety Communications Research lab in evaluating LTE platforms for interoperability is perhaps the most valuable work of FirstNet-related efforts. Those efforts may point to industry winners and losers not only in the US but in Asia, Latin America and the European Union as well.

See Table of Contents for complete list of areas covered.


  • System Integrators
  • Public Safety Agencies
  • LTE Radio Manufacturers
  • Smartphone Manufacturers
  • Cellular Network Operators
  • Public Safety Network Operators
  • LMR Infrastructure Manufacturers
  • Public Safety Application Developers
  • Mobile Computing Equipment Manufacturers
  • Cellular Network Infrastructure Manufacturers

Companies in Report

7Layers Lab, Aeroflex, Agilent, Alcatel-Lucent, Anite, Anritsu, At4 Wireless, CalAmp, Cassidian, Cetecom, Cisco, Elektrobit, FirstNet, General Dynamics, Harris, Inmotion, IPWireless, LGE, Motorola, MSI, NEC, Public Safety Communications Research, Public Wireless, Rohde & Schwarz, US Department of Commerce, Vodafone

Key Findings

  • The goals espoused by FirstNet for the nation-wide network are not feasible.
  • FirstNet may not be funded as planned.
  • The Public Safety Communications Research serves as a gatekeeper testing for interoperability and other aspects of 4G LTE products for the US public safety market.
  • Industry winners: Those with products approved for interoperability in US 4G LTE public safety by PSCR. May lead to acceptance by US public safety buyers. Success here may lead to success in international 4G LTE public safety markets.
  • Industry losers: Those who do not participate in or fail FirstNet-related interoperability testing

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • What it Means to Vendor and Investor Community
  • Who is PSCR?
  • Lab Tests as Indicators or What’s Being Tested in the Labs?
  • Analysis of Feasibility: Is FirstNet Technically, Financially and Policitically Feasible as Advertised
  • Reliability of the Network is Priority #1
  • Cover Every Square Meter in US with 30,000 Cell Sites
  • Network will be Built to Public Safety Specifications (Determined by Public Safety Communications Research Labs in Boulder, Colorado)
  • Network Must be Economical to Build and Operate (Local Authorities to Fund Operations)
  • Network Must be Built As Soon As Possible with Existing Technologies
  • Is FirstNet Financially Feasible?
  • Is FirstNet Politically Feasible?
  • What Vendors Should Do/Not Do Now
  • Follow FirstNet, PSCR News, Attend PSCR and FirstNet Events
  • Note the Types of Platforms being Tested
  • What Network Topology Does That Include?
  • Who are the Vendors Whose Products Are Being Tested and/or Approved by PSCR?
  • How Do Your Products Fit Into That Emerging Value Network?
  • Challenges for FirstNet
  • Advice To FirstNet: The “5 A's" Approach for FirstNet
  • A #1 Aggregate Experience
  • A #2 Assess the Broadband Environment
  • A #3 Assess and Aggregate Demand
  • A #4 Adopt Existing Resources and Solutions
  • A #5 Adapt for Sustainability
  • Conclusion

List of Figures

  • Figure 1: Handheld Devices (Smartphones and Tablets) Seen in the PSCR Labs February 12, 2013
  • Figure 2: In-Vehicle Platforms Known to be in the PSCR Labs February 2013
  • Figure 3: Other Vendors in PSCR Labs 2012

List of Tables

  • Table 1: How "Reliability" is Measured in Terms of Availability
  • Table 2: FirstNet Board of Directors