The Wall Street Journal reports that Mississippi spent millions of dollars on equipment to help police and fire departments send video and other data to each other, but now the state can’t turn its wireless network on. Federal officials recently pulled the plug because of concerns the Mississippi system and others like it won’t be compatible with a national public safety network called FirstNet, which was authorized by Congress in February but is not scheduled to roll out for several years.
Mississippi’s case is an early example of the skirmishes likely during the years-long implementation of FirstNet, an idea that has been discussed since the 9/11 terror attacks but only now is getting off the ground. At a cost of at least $7 billion, the network is to supply common airwaves for use by local officials in an emergency and give them the ability to share videos and other large data files. Many regions already made plans for such networks and previously were backed by the same federal entities that are now putting on the brakes over concerns those networks won’t be compatible with FirstNet.