FirstNet and its Significance to State DOT Operations & Safety Programs

AASHTO Committee on Transportation System Operations

This webinar is intended to raise awareness on the following topics:

PART A: What is FirstNet? [Russ Buchholz to introduce followed by Kenzie Capece from FirstNet Authority]

  • Opening comments, webinar purpose, and webinar agenda – Russ Buchholz
  • Kenzie Capece, FirstNet, to cover:
    • FirstNet Authority
    • AT&T by FirstNet - Network
    • Roadmap and Deployment Status
    • Deployables
    • Primary versus Extended Primary (and service impacts)
    • Stakeholders and Partners (SWIC, SPOC)

PART B: FirstNet and DOTs

  • Understanding FirstNet capabilities [Ryan Poltermann, Commdex & PI on NCHRP 03-129: Essential Communications Guide]
    • How FirstNet differs from traditional DOT LMR Systems
    • Band 14 vs. Non-Band 14
    • High Power User Equipment (HPUE)
    • Mission Critical Push-To-Talk (MCPTT)
    • Other FAQs
  • Leveraging FirstNet capabilities to enhance transportation system operations [State DOT members who can speak to experiences utilizing FirstNet network/deployables and grant funding etc.]
    • Maryland DOT – Janet Frenkil
    • New Hampshire DOT – Dave Chase

PART C: Facilitated Q&A [Lead by: Russ, Ferdinand Milanes & Janet Frenkil]

  • Q/A from webinar attendees
  • Some suggestions:
    • DOT awareness of their respective SPOC and/or SWIC
    • AT&T representative
    • Coverage needs
    • Consider co-location of FirstNet equipment

Background (FirstNet)

Public-safety officials, especially first responders such as law-enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical services personnel, and transportation system managers/operators, rely on communication systems when conducting daily operations, overseeing planned events, and responding to emergencies. The Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the 2012 Act) established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent entity within the Department of Commerce’s (Commerce) National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to help address long-standing service issues and challenges with the interoperability of the different systems used by public-safety entities in differing jurisdictions. They tasked FirstNet with establishing a nationwide, wireless, public-safety broadband network. The bill also committed 7 billion dollars in funding to FirstNet and allocated a total of 20 MHz of bandwidth in the 700 MHz band (758-768 MHz and 788-798 MHz, Band 14).

In March 2017, FirstNet entered into a public-private partnership with AT&T, awarding a 25-year contract for the network’s deployment. As part of this contract, AT&T received $6.5 billion in funding and exclusive access to 20 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum reserved for the network to operate on. In exchange, AT&T is tasked with deploying, operating, and maintaining the network, including providing the technical solution—the overall design, development, production, operation, and evolution of the network—and business functions—the marketing, product management, sales, and customer service.

The 2012 Act also required FirstNet to establish a Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) consisting of members representing all disciplines of public safety as well as state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and that each State establish a Single Point of Contact (SPOC). The mission of the PSAC is to assist FirstNet in carrying out its duties and responsibilities. AASHTO is one of the 40+ organizations with representation on PSAC. The SPOC served as the responsible entity for working with the FirstNet Authority during consultation and the development of State Plans and continues to be the conduit between FirstNet, AT&T, and prospective users.

Target Audience
Managers, Technical Leads within State Departments of Transportation (DOT) Operations, Maintenance, Radio/ITS Communications, IT, Dispatch staff at Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), Transportation Management Centers (TMCs), Transit Operations Centers, etc.

Speaker Bios

  • Ferdinand Milanes (CA DOT): Ferdinand received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from San Francisco State University, and his career spans over 30 years in telecommunications, encompassing microwave and land mobile radio systems; fiber optic; satellite; telephony; wired and wireless systems; and voice, video and data communications. He currently manages the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) public safety communications systems, and is responsible for the planning, design, management, operation and maintenance of 2-way Land Mobile radio, satellite, wired and wireless communications systems. Ferdinand serves on various communications committees: the California Public Safety Radio Strategic Planning Committee; the California Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee; California’s FirstNet Board; the Department of Homeland Security’s SAFECOM committee; the Public Safety Communication Council; co-chairs the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Communications Technical Working Group; and serves as a panelist in various Transportation Research Board projects. Following the establishment of the 5.9 GHz Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) radio spectrum, he participated in an advisory group led by the United States Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) assessing implementation strategies, application development, and system operations and maintenance.

  • Janet Frenkil (MD DOT): Janet Frenkil serves the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) as Deputy Director for ITS and Special Projects for the Office of Transportation Mobility Operations (OTMO, formerly CHART). She oversees policy, planning, development and operations of MDOT SHA's statewide Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program and leads for MDOT SHA on multi-agency special projects. Janet serves as Co-Chair for AASHTO's CTSO Wireless Working Group and as AASHTO's alternate voting member for NPSTC's governing board. She provides technical guidance for a variety of committees, including the MDOT SHA CHART Board, Operations Committee member for Region 20 FCC and the PSC Tower Technical Committee. She also serves as a panel member for NCHRP projects. Recently, Janet was tasked with leading the operations support for over 20 statewide COVID-19 Testing stations. She a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Towson University.

  • Russ Buchholz (Dakota DOT) : Russ Buchholz, the Strategy and Innovation Director of Transportation Systems, overseeing strategic and innovative operations for the North Dakota Department of Transportation since January 2019. Prior to this position, he served as the Information Technology Director from October 2007 thru December 2018, where he oversaw all IT operations. He currently serves as the Co-Vice-Chair for the National Transportation Committee on Transportation Systems Operations (CTSO), the National Transportation representative to FirstNet’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) and is a member of the National Academics Transportation Research Board concerning Cybersecurity for Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS). In addition to his current assignment, he was chosen by the director to be the Program Administrator for North Dakota’s USDOT/FAA Integrated Pilot Program (IPP) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

  • Kenzie Capece (FirstNet Authority): Kenzie Capece has been with FirstNet Authority for the last 4 ½ years, primarily working to administer their Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). In this capacity, Ms. Capece regularly coordinates and collaborates with public safety associations and leadership across the country and all disciplines of public safety. Prior to FirstNet Authority, she worked at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) legacy Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) in multiple capacities, including Federal public safety communications grants administration, management, and advocacy and with the SAFECOM and NCSWIC organizations on various public safety communications issues and priorities. She also previously consulted for the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) on national sectors’ measurement and performance metrics management. Kenzie holds bachelor’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh in Political Science, Journalism, and Legal Studies.

  • Ryan Poltermann (Commdex): Ryan Poltermann has been involved in mission-critical communications for more than a decade, both in design and consulting roles. He has worked on radio systems in six countrywide systems and throughout the United States. He is the Principal Investigator and author for NCHRP 03-129 Essential Communications: A Guide to Land Mobile Radio (LMR). He is the vice chair of the LMR/LTE Working Group of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), an organization that focuses on public safety interoperability. He is also the Innovation Architect at Commdex, responsible for next-generation public safety designs.

  • David Chase (NH DOT):David Chase first joined NH Department of Transportation in 2002 to serve as the Non-Fed Navigation Aid technician for Division of Aeronautics. In 2004 he began work for the Division of Operations as well managing the statewide land mobile radio system and wireless communications systems that support operations and ITS field devices. David studied Broadband Technology at NH Technical Institute, holds a commercial radio telephone operators license and has 35 years in the planning, construction, and maintenance of; aeronautic, land mobile, marine and microwave systems. He currently serves as Communications Supervisor for Bureau of Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) and represents the Department on State and Regional Communications Planning Committees.

Operations Area of Practice

  • Communications
  • Traffic Incident Management

Organizational Capability Element

  • Traffic Incident Management

Event Type

  • Webinar

Content Type

  • Presentation

Publishing Organization

  • NOCoE

Document Downloads

Project Website

View webinar recording on YouTube.

Issue Date
August 21st, 2020
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