COMMERCE CITY, COLO.—After several years of effort, officials from Adams County and Denver, Colo., today celebrated the launch of the initial phase of the county’s public-safety LTE network—the nation’s first system to be deployed with the blessing of FirstNet.

“We’re very proud to be the first in the nation to do what we believe is a very important step to take public safety beyond where it is today and empower public safety to do a better job every day at everything they do,” Bill Malone, executive director of the Adams County Communications Center (ADCOM911) said during today’s launch event. “We’re very proud to do that in the state of Colorado, extremely proud to do that in Adams County, and we’re definitely proud to do it at ADCOM 911.”

Currently, the Adams County system has five working LTE sites, but the network is scheduled to have 18 sites by the end of the year, according to Malone. Key applications supported by the high-bandwidth network include improved field-reporting capabilities, enhanced deployable functionality and the ability to stream video to and from mobile public-safety vehicles.

Getting to this point was not easy. After submitting what Malone described as “a bit-of-a-moonshot grant proposal” for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded Adams County with $12.1 million to deploy the public-safety LTE system in 2010. However, before the network could be completed in 2012, NTIA halted all BTOP public-safety broadband projects in the wake of Congress creating FirstNet.

Early last year, FirstNet opened negotiations with BTOP jurisdictions on spectrum-lease agreements, but talks with Adams County actually ceased last August. However, these negotiations later were resurrected and resulted in a spectrum-lease deal, paving the way for the Adams County public-safety LTE network to be deployed.

“There have been so many hurdles and so many missed attempts to get this going, but Adams County has been persistent in wanting to be on the forefront of all this,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) said during the launch event. “Now, we have the first interoperable communications system of its kind anywhere in the nation, and you all are going to be looked at as pioneers and individuals who are going to be able to advise other communities.

“I thank you for taking on this task.”

Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade called the deployment of the LTE system an example of “good government” involving officials at the local, state and federal levels.

“This project goes across jurisdictional boundaries, it goes across political boundaries, and—probably even more important in the public-safety realm—it goes across disciplinary boundaries,” Tade said. “This isn’t a fire system, this isn’t a police system, and it isn’t an EMS system. This is a public-safety system … and the ultimate winners in this are the citizens served by this system.”