Grand Isle Local Emergency Planning Committee Meeting
On July, 6 2015 Tess Gauthier presented to 11 member of Local Emergency Planning Committee 13 at the Grand Isle Courthouse. The presentation covered the history of FirstNet, FirstNet’s vision for the network, the road-map, Vermont’s role in the planning process, and the need for public safety entities to submit their data and share their view about a public safety broadband network.
Top concerns about the FirstNet project on behalf of the LEPC members were devices, coverage in rural areas, and Canadian interference issues. LECP 13 was inquisitive about what devices would be able to work on the network and concerned that FirstNet is be a federal mandate with unsupported funds. It was discussed that if a state opts in the the FirstNet State Plan that the federal government will pay for the network deployment as well as the ongoing maintenance. However, if a state opts out then that state has to come up with their own network design to meet the interoperabliity requirement of FirstNet and then apply for construction funds and spectrum leasing. It was also discussed that FirstNet's vision of the network is that when deployed, the network will work with existing devices. It was clarified that the goal of FirstNet is for current devices among the public safety community to work on the network once it's deployed.
As for Canada, it was discussed that for the last five years Canada has been working to establish a National Public Safety Broadband Network. On April 23, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper indicated in the budget that $3 million would be allocated for Canada to take initial steps to establish a governance body to oversee this. Further discussions were had around how Canada has already allocated 10 megahertz (MHz) of the highly valued 700 MHz broadband spectrum for public safety communications and have recently decided to allocate another 10 MHz of the 700 MHz spectrum to enable the creation of a Public Safety Broadband Network, a high-speed mobile network dedicated to emergency management. The technical aspects of this mirror the US’s spectrum, all utilizing Band Class 14, which is completely free and unencumbered - a unique distinction of the Land Mobile Radio System in place today, as some of the Bands being utilized today by Vermont are encumbered with our northern neighbors.
Members of the LECP were particularly concerned that the network would require them to buy new hardware and radio devices.