FirstNet releases RFI on apps, kills BTOP negotiations

The First Responder Network Authority moved further along with planning for the LTE-based nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) by issuing a request for information (RFI) on application platforms. However, FirstNet also put an end to negotiations with several public-safety entities hoping to lease its spectrum for public-safety networks within their jurisdictions.

"Mobile apps running on the FirstNet nationwide broadband network will transform the way public safety completes its mission," said FirstNet General Manager Bill D'Agostino. "We want to hear from all interested stakeholders on their creative and innovative ideas on how this platform should operate." 

The RFI seeks input on eight specific areas, including mobile device application solutions, mobile app stores, Big Data/ API and cloud solutions, public safety data from agencies, data security, app testing and certification, publisher interfaces, and identity management. RFI responses are due Jan. 17, 2014.

This latest RFI is the 12th one issued by FirstNet during 2013. FirstNet issued an RFI for devices in May, and then issued 10 RFIs in July on the radio access network (RAN) and core network. FirstNet said it received more than 300 comments from a wide range of stakeholders on these RFIs.

Meanwhile, FirstNet ceased negotiations with Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant recipients as of Nov. 15. However, D'Agostino told Urgent Communications that the BTOP entities with which FirstNet was negotiating could still opt to accept the spectrum-lease terms FirstNet left on the table for them last month.

Seven original BTOP entities had their funding for LTE public-safety networks halted last year by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees FirstNet. NTIA was concerned their projects might be incompatible with FirstNet's mission. Of the seven, only  the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) and the state of New Mexico have since signed agreements allowing them to lease the 20 MHz of 700 MHz Band 14 broadband spectrum allocated to FirstNet for their projects.

In related news, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) announced it has wrapped up a six-month trial of an LTE public-safety network in Las Vegas that enabled trial participants to share detailed information using real-time video, collaboration, real-time vehicle tracking, remote office applications, Wi-Fi and a secure virtual private network (VPN).

Participating in the trial were the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the Nevada Department of Transportation and other first responders. The trial used 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum allocated to FirstNet.

Alcatel-Lucent provided an LTE eNodeB, a 7705 SAR-8 service aggregation router, a 5620 Service Aware Manager (SAM), a local serving/packet data network gateway and a hosted LTE core to provide coverage and deliver advanced IP services. Other vendors--all of which are members of Alcatel-Lucent's ngConnect Program--that supplied technology for the trial included Axis Communications, CalAmp Fusion, Cassidian Communications, LiveViewGPS, Mutualink and Vidyo.

Fred Scalera, Alcatel-Lucent's director of public safety strategies, noted that the public-safety product employed in the trial includes "ultra broadband and advanced IP networking functionality," which are key elements of the vendor's "Shift" restructuring strategy.

The company's CEO Michel Combes unveiled the restructuring plan in June when he announced further cost-cutting measures in a drive to become cash-flow positive by 2015.

For more:
- see this FirstNet release
- see this Urgent Communications article
- see this Alcatel-Lucent release

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