NIST releases initial list of 17 devices certified for use on FirstNet system
Devices from Apple, Samsung, Sonim Technologies and Netgear are on the initial list of certified devices that public-safety users can use on the FirstNet broadband system being deployed by AT&T, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
All equipment on the NIST List of Certified Devices—a list maintained by the Public Safety Research (PSCR) division of NIST and released yesterday for the first time—must complete regulatory certification before being considered for approval for use on AT&T’s network. A device must meet the criteria included in FirstNet’s Device Approval Program to be included on the NIST List of Certified Devices.
“To ensure the needs of public safety are met, the First Responder Network Authority has also established and conducted audits and verification steps in this process,” Joe Martinet, FirstNet’s director of devices, stated in a blog posted yesterday. “For example, we audited and verified testing of public safety-focused features and functions of wireless devices currently published on the NIST list. This includes Band 14 functionality when applicable, FirstNet UICC [universal integrated circuit card] or SIM functionality, as well as functionality with the FirstNet Core.”
Band 14 is the 20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum licensed to FirstNet, but traffic from FirstNet subscribers is given priority and preemption across all of AT&T’s commercial bands, as well. Band 14 functionality was tested in all certified devices that included Band 14 support, but the ability to communicate over Band 14 is not required for a device to be certified, according to a FirstNet spokesperson.
FirstNet-specific testing and validation is done “in parallel” with AT&T’s carrier-acceptance testing for a device, according to a document outlining the certification process. A device that completes this step successfully can be added to the NIST certified-devices list after FirstNet notifies PSCR, which maintains the list on behalf of NIST.
Additional devices will be added to the NIST list in a “timely” manner as certifications are completed, according to Martinet’s blog.
“In our ongoing interactions with the public-safety community, we’ve repeatedly heard from first responders at all levels about their need for a wide variety of user devices: commercial, ruggedized, and functional devices to support their respective lifesaving missions,” according to Martinet’s blog. “Now that we are in the deployment phase of the network, our audit and verification role is vital to ensuring that the devices meet the needs of public safety. By providing validation and oversight, we are ensuring that FirstNet works for public safety.”
All devices on the NIST certified-devices list are expected to be listed on the www.firstnet.com web site, according to a FirstNet spokesperson.
Of the initial 17 devices to be certified, 14 are smartphones. Two tablets—both from Apple—and a hotspot from Netgear also are on the certification list, which is available on the NIST web site.
Seven of the certified smartphones are Apple devices—the new iPhone X and two versions apiece of the iPhone 6S, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8. None of the Apple devices operate on Band 14 airwaves, but they can operate on other AT&T spectrum bands that provide FirstNet users with priority and preemption, according to numerous sources.
Five of the certified smartphones are from Samsung. The recently announced Galaxy S9 and S9+ devices support Band 14 operations, while the three versions of the Galaxy S8 smartphones listed operate on other AT&T bands.
While the Apple and Samsung certified devices are commercial-grade smartphones, the Sonim Technologies XP8 and XP5s are the only devices on the NIST list that are considered “rugged smartphones.” Both devices from Sonim Technologies support communications that utilize Band 14 spectrum.