Public-safety agencies seeking to evaluate wireless broadband options from FirstNet and commercial carriers can utilize NetMotion Diagnostics 3.2, the new version of the NetMotion Wireless software package that supports two 700 MHz Band 14 devices today and is expected to support many more during the next year.

NetMotion Wireless today announced that the latest release of Diagnostics is being used by public-safety agencies that are part of FirstNet trials or are preparing to be on a trial network, according to John Knopf, vice president of product management at NetMotion Wireless.

“We’ve seen an uptick with accounts that are in FirstNet trials, as well as accounts that are planning on being in FirstNet trials within the coming year, and both sets of those are pretty anxious to start mapping out how they’re using things today,” Knopf said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “For those that are deploying FirstNet, they want visibility, because the towers don’t go up all at once, and they want to understand what sort of an impact this has.”

To enable this, the Diagnostics solution now supports two trunk-mounted modems involved in FirstNet trials: the Harris MBC-200 LTE mobile router and the Motorola Solutions VML 750 vehicle modem.

“The gratifying thing is that we were approached by both of those modem vendors directly, because the actual customers at the trial sites were saying, ‘You’ve got to support NetMotion,’” Knopf said. “That’s the sort of market demand that we love to see.

“Getting both of those modems supported wasn’t a gargantuan effort on our part, and we’re planning on quite a few more in the coming year, as we start to get a broader list of devices, in terms of both modems and handhelds. In terms of a roadmap, we are planning to announce quite a bit more support in 2016.”

Having diagnostics tools that can provide objective information regarding coverage areas, data throughputs and application characteristics promise to be valuable to public-safety entities, both as they provide input before FirstNet is built—or their state choose the opt-out alternative to deploy the LTE radio access network (RAN) itself—and choose whether to subscribe to the dedicated network, according to Steve Fallin,

“The sense we’re getting is that folks want to know, when national comes in and deploys that first-generation radio access network, the difference in the coverage they’re going to get there and what their usage patterns are,” Fallin said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“If they need to report up to the governors, ‘These are what our needs are as you’re considering whether or not we’re going to [opt out],’ or in their own discussions with [FirstNet], this is vital data for them—and it’s going to be driving concerns like officer safety, as well as to be able to serve the public.”