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New Mexico considered the Harris County, Texas, host core as well, said Jacqueline Miller, New Mexico deputy secretary for the Department of Information Technology. “We determined Adams County was a better solution so we could manage the system at a higher level of detail without additional upgrades,” she said. “Adams County had included some additional capacity.”
Both Adams County Communications Center (Adcom 9-1-1) and New Mexico have spectrum lease agreements with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks using Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funds. Harris County is another FirstNet early builder, using funds from a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) port authority grant.
Cost sharing and containment are an Adams County key learning condition (KLC) for FirstNet, said Mike Brunswig, assistant director of administration for Adams County. “We feel that if the public-safety broadband network is going to be a success nationwide, these types of partnerships are crucial,” he said.
New Mexico will pay a portion of the upkeep and maintenance costs for the Adcom host core, Miller said. “It is our intent to look at what is an equitable amount,” she said. “There is a lot of work being done on what a cost recovery model could look like.”
“The Adcom network was built to be able to accommodate partners,” Brunswig said. “Our long-term sustainability model is based upon the ability to bring on additional partners, and the network infrastructure was constructed and scaled with this in mind.”
Officials said the primary goal is to demonstrate capabilities using a core hosted by governing authority but see potential for a range of interoperability options such as potential for remote core interoperability between the Adcom and Harris County cores. “When we connect to one existing core, we could look at failover from one core site to another,” Miller said. “We may also look at interoperability between end-user devices. If we register a device on Adams County, and they move into Harris County, can we make the devices work and how do we facilitate that?”
New Mexico expects to award a contract for its public-safety LTE radio access networks (RANs), internetworking equipment and other components in the coming weeks, Miller said. Alcatel-Lucent, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Harris, Motorola Solutions and Nokia all have price agreements for band class 14 LTE equipment with the state.
The Adcom system went live last June and now has 15 of 16 planned sites on the air. The network has 2,000 first responders with 13 different agencies connected, covering 1,200 square miles. There are three LTE eNodeBs at each site.
Adcom is negotiating an agreement to bring Denver International Airport (DIA) onto the network with three additional sites, plus potential integration into the existing distributed antenna system (DAS) integration. The agency is working with Gemalto and Safran Morpho for subscriber identity module (SIM) cards for devices. General Dynamics Mission Systems, CalAmp, Sonim Technologies and Panorama Antennas are supplying devices.
“We are having conversations with other vendors as well,” Brunswig said.
Although the agency has yet to finalize its KLC agreement with FirstNet, some initial goals are to provide a real-world test system, perform device testing and provide data from a live public-safety LTE system. KLC details are still being negotiated, Brunswig said.
At the Colorado state consultation meeting Jan. 14, Adcom and other state officials emphasized their hope to further develop the Adcom network and capitalize on current momentum. However, FirstNet officials said it would be difficult to expand early builder projects until state plans are finalized.
“We feel that Adcom is in a unique position to be able to provide this service to our local and regional partners, and we hope to continue to be able to foster those relationships,” Brunswig said. “There has been a great deal of interest in public-safety broadband from our contemporaries here in Colorado, and Adcom will continue to work with FirstNet and the state of Colorado on this issue.”
FirstNet officials are not getting involved in the details, such as which core a network will use, of each early builder project. However, FirstNet Deputy Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Jeff Bratcher said FirstNet has established on-the-ground working relationships with the five early builders and is providing program and technical support to the projects.
“We have worked with them on a range of issues, such as mobile network identifiers, mobile SIM card provisioning, technical design advice, implementation schedule reviews, among other things," Bratcher said. “The goal of our involvement through the FirstNet spectrum lease agreements for each of these projects is to understand the key lessons learned in building, deploying and operating LTE networks for public-safety-specific use. These lessons will be used to inform the network design and provide invaluable information for the deployment and operation of the nationwide public-safety broadband network.”
Other early builders include the state of New Jersey, which awarded a contract for its LTE public-safety network to PMC Associates, a New Jersey-based two-way radio dealer. The network is scheduled to be operational by May 2015.
The Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communication System Authority (LA-RICS) last year awarded a $175 million contract to Motorola Solutions to design, construct, implement and maintain its early builder public-safety broadband network.
“We’re excited about the project moving forward, and I’m impressed with the level of cooperation and coordination with all the early builders,” Miller said. “We spend a lot of time sharing information and experiences, and I think that’s been hugely valuable.”