When disaster strikes, citizens reach for their phones. And when a disaster is large scale, the massive increase in cell phone use can jam the cellular networks needed for communication with police, fire departments and other first responders. FirstNet® offers a solution.
FirstNet is a nationwide wireless network that is designed to deliver priority, pre-emptive communications for first responders and those responsible for critical infrastructure any time a large-scale public emergency, such as a hurricane, wildfire or other event affects an entire city or region. FirstNet ensures critical voice, text and data communications go through when a spike in civilian cell phone use could jam cellular networks, preventing dispatchers and first responders from communicating quickly and effectively.
This critical network supports not only first responders, but all important enterprises and services that are needed in an emergency, from wastewater management to security services. Called "Extended Primary" services, organizations in this category can also purchase FirstNet Ready™ devices like Digi TX54, Digi TX64, Digi EX12 and Digi EX15 and make use of the FirstNet network for critical communications.
FirstNet and Band 14 Wireless Spectrum
The need for an interoperable public safety network with dedicated spectrum was first recognized in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when first responders found it difficult to communicate on the congested cellphone network.
Congress created the First Responder Network Authority and set aside 20 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency band, known as Band 14, to ensure vital communications during a disaster. This low-band spectrum was chosen because it offers several advantages, including the ability to penetrate walls and other obstacles, helping to ensure excellent coverage.
FirstNet operates as a public-private collaboration between the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T. In the event of an emergency, FirstNet users have priority over non-FirstNet users and, if necessary, all commercial traffic will be dropped and the network will be dedicated exclusively to first responders, as well as to the “Extended Primary” group as bandwidth allows. During a crisis, a normal cellphone might stop working, but FirstNet-enabled devices will continue to work.
How FirstNet Supports “Extended Primary Users”
FirstNet was initially designed exclusively for the “primary” category of public safety entities such as police, fire, ambulance and EMTs. However, many other organizations and services — as well as critical infrastructure — are often needed during emergencies and in the aftermath of a catastrophic event. For that reason, FirstNet was extended to a second tier of “Extended Primary Users.”
Extended Primary Users include both public and private organizations in categories such as:
- Electric utilities and power grid infrastructure
- Telecommunication services
- Hospitals and medical facilities
- Water supply and wastewater treatment plants
- Transportation systems including airports, commuter rail and public transit
To ensure that this diverse group of users has the interoperability they need, FirstNet supports a wide variety of approved FirstNet Ready™ devices, including Android®, and Apple® iOS smartphones, feature phones, and data-only devices, such as tablets, laptops, aircards, netbooks and mobile hotspot devices.
Digi FirstNet Ready Cellular Devices
Digi supports emergency responders, health practitioners, emergency dispatch services and the large list of extended primary users with enterprise class cellular extenders and mobile access cellular routers. Digi EX15, an enterprise class cellular extender designed for indoor applications, is ideal for dispatch centers and a wide range of extended primary use cases, from critical infrastructure to security services. Digi EX12 provides primary or backup connectivity for a range of indoor environments, from police, fire and medical services to security operations. Digi TX54 is an industrial class cellular router suited for mobile communications, and is designed to withstand environmental challenges such as temperature extremes and vibration.
|Digi TX54 is a rugged and secure FirstNet Ready™ cellular router for mission critical industrial, transportation applications, and public safety networks. This high-performance router is designed to support the most demanding Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) being deployed today.
|Digi TX64 is a high-performance FirstNet Ready™ cellular router with dual redundant communications that helps administrators manage and simplify complex transit and transportation systems – supporting and segmenting all public and private data communications.
|The FirstNet Ready™ Digi EX12, enables you to expand or retrofit your infrastructure with highly reliable cellular network access. With a carrier-certified, embedded LTE Cat 4 cellular modem, equipped with dual SIM slots, Digi EX12 provides uninterrupted primary or backup connectivity.
|The FirstNet Ready™ Digi EX15 LTE cellular extender can be used as a network failover solution to ensure business continuity, or as a primary LTE data connection in enterprise and government applications. The Digi EX15 also includes a serial port that can be used for remote, out-of-band management.
|The Digi WR54 router, with a FirstNet Ready™ option for emergency responders, provides highly available connectivity for mobile applications such as city transportation systems, ambulance, police and fire with dual-SIM failover.
In addition, built-in Digi TrustFence® security simplifies the process of securing connected devices with full encryption of data over FirstNet, and continuously adapts to new and evolving cyber threats. Digi Remote Manager®, a secure, web-based management application, also lets users monitor the performance and status of their deployed devices from a centralized location.
Digi — Your Partner for FirstNet
Digi has been serving public safety users as well as utilities, transit systems and other critical infrastructure entities for decades. We have the knowledge, teams and technology to improve your city’s or region’s disaster preparedness with FirstNet Ready™ devices and solutions. Contact us to learn more about how these systems can help you get ready and stay ready — just in case disaster strikes.