CWA urges Houston to prioritize the wireless communication needs of first responders through FirstNet

Claude Cummings Jr, CWA District 6 Vice President, urged the City of Houston to prioritize the wireless communication needs of first responders and public servants at the start of the 2019 hurricane season by investing in FirstNet. 

In March 2017, the First Responder Network Authority, an independent agency within the US Department of Commerce, selected AT&T to construct, maintain, and operate FirstNet, America’s first nationwide public safety broadband network dedicated to first responders. The creation of FirstNet has placed a well-deserved spotlight on emergency communications, generating renewed interest and competition throughout the entire public-safety communications ecosystem. As the first nationwide interoperable broadband network dedicated to public safety, FirstNet will act as an engine for future development and implementation of reliable, secure and state-of-the-art communications technologies for first responders. In an op-ed published in the Houston Business Journal, Cummings states: 

FirstNet’s features guarantee that our first responders will always be able to communicate when a disaster strikes. The network equips first responders with priority and preemption across all of the network’s spectrum bands, including Band 14, which Congress dedicated specifically to public safety and no other platform has access to. The network core is built on physically separate hardware, ensuring that sensitive public safety communications are separate from consumer traffic and protected by end-to-end encryption. And importantly, FirstNet eliminates the risk of throttling that notoriously hampered firefighting efforts by the Santa Clara County Fire Department in last year’s Mendocino Complex Fire.

Additionally, FirstNet offers first-of-its-kind interoperability for coordinating city agencies and personnel. This means first responders can choose to raise the priority status of certain agencies during emergencies making communication and coordination seamless across 

Besides providing necessary features for first responders, the FirstNet network is being built and operated by AT&T Mobility, the union wireless carrier, which means higher job standards for workers and greater protections for consumers. Today, broadband connectivity is a matter of life and death. It is imperative that we have a well-trained and reliable workforce to restore our critical infrastructure as quickly and safely as possible.

Read the full op-ed here

Links:

Op-ed: Why first responders need a dedicated communications network (Houston Business Journal, Jun. 21, 2019)

Communications Workers of America launches First Responder Voice (Speed Matters, Oct. 19, 2018)