Augment Your ARES Mission with FirstNet (QST)

In his Augment Your ARES® Mission with FirstNet® article (a free preview from the September 2020 issue of QST Magazine), Randy Richmond, W7HMT, discusses how ARES members can apply for a subscription to FirstNet and use this tool for public service applications.

W7HMT begins by mentioning that the 2012 Spectrum Act, which funded FirstNet, authorizes supporting volunteer groups—including the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®)—access to dedicated spectrum in Band 14 (700MHz).

His article covers technical details of how FirstNet differs from commercial cellular carriers and discusses advantages for ARES:

  • How ARES teams can use cellular communication
  • Assets to improve cellular resiliency
  • Priority access to avoid cellular congestion
  • Communicating directly with Served Agencies

W7HMT then describes the process of he went through when subscribing to FirstNet and provides a link for purchasing a FirstNet-ready smartphone.

In closing, W7HMT writes:

Given the fact that FirstNet, like existing cellular networks, is subject to impairment during disasters, there remains a need for a resiliency that only amateur radio can provide. Nonetheless, FirstNet can be another valuable resource in the ARES toolkit, to help provide communications in times of disaster.1


  1. “Augment Your ARES Mission with FirstNet”, ARRL The national association for Amateur Radio, accessed August 12 2020, http://www.arrl.org/files/file/QST/This%20Month%20in%20QST/Sept2020/Richmond.pdf. ↩︎