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Public Safety Broadband

What is Broadband?

Broadband is a faster and more efficient high-speed internet connection than traditional dial-up connections. It allows for transmitting large amounts of data, including text, images, videos, and audio, at faster rates. Various types of broadband connections are available, such as DSL, cable, fiber optic, satellite, and wireless technologies, which offer different speeds and capabilities based on the technology used and the service provider. In the United States, cellular carriers play a significant role in providing broadband services to public safety agencies through specialized networks like FirstNet. These networks prioritize emergency communications, ensuring reliability, speed, and security during critical situations. Cellular carriers are also developing specialized services and applications tailored to the needs of public safety agencies.

The State of Oregon has opted into the buildout of the National Public Safety Broadband Network known as FirstNet and the initial build out of 46 sites within the state is complete as of January 2023. Local, state, and tribal agencies are now evaluating the coverage and capabilities of the network to see if it meets their mission critical requirements. As of January 2023, approximately 35,000 subscribers have adopted FirstNet in Oregon and there are more than 360 public agencies that have adopted the service. In addition to the new site builds, public safety owned spectrum has been added to 754 commercial cellular sites, enhancing coverage, and capacity to meet mission critical needs.

For more information about the FirstNet Authority, visit

For more information about the National Public Safety Broadband Network or to subscribe, visit

Other major commercial carriers including Verizon and T-Mobile have rolled out public safety grade services on their networks to complete with FirstNet services. These networks generally prioritize emergency communications traffic and offer preemption services in an effort to ensure reliability, speed, and security during critical situations. Preemption ensures that Public Safety’s communications take precedence over regular consumer traffic, allowing responders to communicate, share data, and access critical applications without interruption, even during times of high network congestion.

Public safety is currently evaluating the potentially revolutionary changes that new broadband technologies such as low earth orbit satellite offer to their operations. Some potential use cases for these technologies include providing backhaul for rural radio sites, disaster response operations, improving the connected cruiser concept, and increasing the communications resiliency of critical public safety physical locations.

Oregon has established an emergency resource request and escalation plan through the FirstNet Response Operations Group and State Emergency Coordination Center’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) – 2 (Communications). This plan has been exercised on multiple real-world emergencies. The FirstNet team in Oregon, in collaboration with the Statewide Interoperability Program have deployed assets to support first responders during fires, winter storms and in response to the COVID-19 emergencies effectively. Currently, site resiliency and coverage in rural areas of Oregon are the primary focus, in addition to completing the RAN buildout on schedule.