FirstNet and AT&T have certified theSierra Wireless rugged AirLink MG90 multi-network vehicle router and have designated the router as FirstNet Ready, according to a recent announcement from Sierra Wireless.

After developing routers that work with commercial carriers to provide public-safety entities with wireless broadband connectivity for decades, getting the MG90 certified for the FirstNet system being built by AT&T was a logical step, according to Larry Zibrik, vice president of business development for Sierra Wireless.

 “We look at FirstNet as an inflection in the marketplace,” Zibrik said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “When we look at FirstNet and AT&T together providing this FirstNet service, we think it’s going to be a great accelerant to the marketplace.”

“We’ve worked with AT&T forever, all the way back to GSM. We were the first ones to do GSM with them in this category. We were the first ones to do EDGE, the first ones to do LTE and now we’re the LTE speed race, if you will.”

Sierra Wireless has been working with AT&T for more than a year—including months of field testing—to ensure that the MG90 is “rock solid” and meets FirstNet users’ requirements, Zibrik said. Although the MG90 has been part of the Sierra Wireless portfolio for some time, the FirstNet Ready version of the product supports a FirstNet SIM card and includes a new module with LTE Category 12 (CAT-12) connectivity that enables theoretical data rates of 600 MB/s downlink and 100 MB/s uplink, he said.

“It’s a multi-Ethernet, multi-Wi-Fi [router], so we’re connecting the laptop, tablet, phone or whatever on Wi-Fi and pushing it back over 4G or the FirstNet network,” Zibrik said. “We’re also generating a Wi-Fi bubble around the vehicle. Usually, the lightbar, the gun rack and all of the accessories in the vehicle are tied into the gateway as the central networking point in the vehicle now, so there’s a lot of security features, and it’s very robust.”

“The MG90 supports dual LTE radios, so you could be on two network operators simultaneously, if there are potential coverage holes. Constant, reliable, mission-critical communications is really what the product’s all about.”

A hallmark of the new MG90 is flexibility, as it provides customers with flexibility and future proofing by supporting all commercial spectrum, as well as special features designed specifically for FirstNet users, Zibrik said.

“When it recognizes a FirstNet SIM, then a certain number of new features that we’ve implemented will be enabled to be compatible on the network.” he said.

Public-safety agencies that have previous versions of the MG90 should check with Sierra Wireless about the best method to deploy the FirstNet Ready version of the router, Zibrik said.

“We are working with customers on certain MG90 devices that can be upgraded—the base unit would remain the same, but the module is upgraded,” Zibrik said. “Some of those we can upgrade. With other ones, ultimately the customer’s in a better situation to completely update the equipment. It all depends on what their requirements are—if they want single network or multi-network, and it depends on their Wi-Fi requirements.

“So, we do have some upgrade capability, but we’re tailoring the offerings based on the customer situation.”

Sierra Wireless also hopes to have its MP70 in-vehicle router—a product that supports only one LTE connection, as opposed to the multiple connections supported by the MG90—certified for the FirstNet system in the “not-to-distant future,” Zibrik said.

“We have a fairly extensive portfolio of products that are aimed at public safety, and making them FirstNet Ready was a priority for us,” he said.