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In many instances, the NPSBN will be very similar to existing wireless data networks, like the ones used by hundreds of millions of smartphone users each day. A key differentiator will be what FirstNet refers to as Quality of Service, Priority, and Preemption (or QPP for short). QPP is how FirstNet plans to make the network mission critical for public safety users.

Quality of Service (QoS) is needed to ensure that public safety users have access to their mission critical services and applications at the required level of quality and reliability. QoS manages the assignment of properties such as guaranteed bandwidth, usage limits, latency, accuracy, accessibility, and retention to make sure that public safety communications over the data network are seamless.

Priority is the means by which users, applications, or data streams take precedence over others during periods of congestion in the network. These tools help assure that public safety communications take priority over non-public safety communications, and that first responders in peril take precedence over all others.

Preemption is used together with priority to control the use of scarce resources by removing lower priority users from the network in times of severe network congestion. Preemption of users is anticipated to be used rarely and will serve as an important tool to assure that public safety users can communicate in times of emergency.

Together, QPP aims to assure that public safety users always have the wireless data resources they need, when they need it. Massachusetts recently hosted a FirstNet-facilitated regional planning session to discuss FirstNet’s proposed QPP Framework. The outcomes of how QPP will be implemented in the NPSBN will be documented in the State Plans expected early next year.

For more information about quality of service, priority, and preemption, please contact the Public Safety Broadband Office at psbo@state.ma.us.

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