Tribal Leaders Voice Broadband Needs for FirstNet Authority Roadmap


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In a two-day meeting last week hosted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Public Safety Advisory Committee’s (PSAC) Tribal Working Group (TWG) met with FirstNet officials in Nashville. The engagement was an opportunity for the FirstNet Authority to hear from tribal leaders about their network needs, and highlight real-world FirstNet use cases in their communities.

The meeting included a presentation by Tim Zientek, Emergency Manager for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, about the tribe’s experience using a FirstNet dedicated deployable during its annual Firelake Fireflight Balloon festival in Shawnee, Oklahoma. 

 With over 40,000 visitors, the tribe relied on a FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT) and FirstNet Ready™ devices to cut through congested networks and communicate during the three-day event. Zientek remarked that the SatCOLT was deployed to Indian County and “did exactly what it said it was going to do.”

TWG delegate Robert DesRosier, Director of Emergency Management for the Blackfeet Nation, updated the working group about the tribe’s rural communication challenges along a 60+ mile international border and Glacier National Park. The lack of coverage and telecommunications infrastructure makes it difficult for the tribe to quickly respond to incidents or regularly maintain situational awareness.

As part of the roadmap discussion, Dave Buchanan, FirstNet Authority Executive Director of Public Safety Advocacy, explained how the TWG meeting was a critical opportunity to engage with local and regional tribal leaders to ensure that the evolution of the FirstNet network will reflect tribal broadband communications needs.  Also, as the FirstNet Authority continues to meet with public safety organizations across the country, the PSAC is important to identifying and gathering feedback and input on public safety’s communications needs.

PSAC Chair Todd Early discuss the PSAC’s current and future priorities, the TWG’s role in upcoming PSAC meetings, and the ongoing FirstNet Authority Roadmap engagements with public safety organizations.

May 16, 2019

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