FirstNet and Cradlepoint Overcome Connectivity Issues for First Responders

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Indiana public-safety agencies are using FirstNet and Cradlepoint mobile routers—both in-vehicle and pelican-case solutions—to quickly establish broadband connectivity in almost any location without the need for satellite backhaul, according to a state official.

Tyler Clements, field service coordinator for the state of Indiana Integrated Public Safety Commission (IPSC), said the IPSC is using Cradlepoint COR Series mobile router solutions with FirstNet Ready™ MC400 modems for mobile command networks established for planned events and emergency response. Urgent Communications reported broadband access helps command personnel coordinate activities on many levels, from communicating with personnel in the field to using social media, to keep the general public updated about an ongoing emergency.

Although applications to address such situations have been available for years, they only became operationally practical when IPSC switched to FirstNet service with priority and preemption in March 2018, Clements said.  

“Just by hooking up a Cradlepoint that was not even hooked up to a vehicle…it was just moments until those folks had the connectivity they needed to stream on FirstNet and the social media platforms. We’re talking about taking users that aren’t yet FirstNet users, but we were able to share the broadband connectivity with them through a WiFi connection.”

Such use of the Cradlepoint solution also opened the eyes of many participating public-safety officials about the effectiveness and potential uses of FirstNet in other settings, Clements said. “Their reaction was, ‘As soon as we go back to our local agency, we need to look into getting FirstNet, so that we no longer have to worry about somebody else providing us this tool; it should be on our devices, ready to go,’” he said.

The combined solution could also be a good option for schools, including potential cost savings, noted Clements. “You’re talking about thousands of dollars for [an LMR] radio,” he said. “Here in Indiana, we’re really proud of the aggressive pricing we’ve worked out for FirstNet. They can purchase a Sonim XP8 [ruggedized LTE smartphone] for 99 cents, connect with the ongoing FirstNet cost, and deploy that with any app that they would need.”

January 31, 2019

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