FirstNet updates its VNS network vision

FirstNet says its vision for the Vehicle Network System (VNS), previously known as an MCU, involves a new product concept meant to address the communication needs of remote first responders immediately when they respond to incidents that are outside of terrestrial coverage -- or if traditional coverage has become unavailable due to a natural or man-made disaster.

A VNS is a set of radio access and other technologies that enable a first responder's vehicle to act as a virtual cell site for Band 14 LTE devices. It can be equipped with satellite connectivity for remote locations and provides network features from within the vehicle when the VNS cannot reach FirstNet's terrestrial network. Alternatively, it can use HP-UE radios and/or LTE Relay to extend the reach back to the terrestrial network. "In essence, the VNS offers a remote low-capacity temporary extension of regular network coverage," says the FirstNet CTO Devices Team.

The typical installation for a VNS is fixed in the vehicle with antennas on the roof, but another proposed implementation can be via elements small enough to fit in a backpack that's kept in the vehicle and used on an ad-hoc basis. For more on VNS and the elements, see this FirstNet blog.