October 7, 2014
FirstNet, a dedicated nationwide high-speed network for public safety and first responders, will become one of the largest networks in the world. The organization overseeing the project, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is collaborating with all 50 states and six US territories. FirstNet will cover 3.8 million square miles and be larger than Verizon, AT&T and Sprint’s coverage combined.
Unsurprisingly, for a project this large and with so many different players, approaches to the challenge have varied considerably. A June 2014 report by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) showed states are at widely differing stages of development. For example, almost a quarter of states have not gotten involved in active planning, while more than half the states are already collecting data they plan to use in their planning efforts.
The $7 billion dollar initiative has reached a critical juncture in its development with the formal in-person state consultation meetings beginning July 31. These meetings will involve and shape what the FirstNet network will look like within each state.