AT&T's FirstNet Counts 9,000 Public-Safety Agencies, 750,000 Connections

FirstNet, the government agency charged with building a network for public-safety workers that is partnered with AT&T, released its latest customer metrics.

August 12, 2019

6 Min Read

DALLAS -- Public safety personnel across the country continue to turn to FirstNet to advance their routine and emergency responses. Nearly 9,000 public safety agencies and organizations have subscribed to FirstNet, accounting for over 750,000 connections in service. And the numbers are growing daily.

Why? Because the FirstNet communications platform – built with AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – offers first responders and those critical to their response a purpose-built experience they can’t get anywhere else.

“FirstNet is designed to be different because that’s what public safety specifically asked for. This is the only platform that has been built from the ground up just for this community, and we believe FirstNet is the most important network in the country because it serves public safety across the country,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T. “As we grow and evolve FirstNet, we’re proud to connect more members of the public safety community and further empower the men and women we rely on to keep us safe with the advanced communications capabilities needed to help strengthen their mission delivery.”

For the second consecutive quarter, FirstNet brings its subscribers the fastest overall network experience. According to the results of tests taken with Speedtest as analyzed by AT&T, FirstNet once again performed faster than any commercial network.1

These results come as the number of markets with the FirstNet Band 14 spectrum nears 650.2 We’re moving quickly with about 65% of our nationwide coverage targets completed well ahead of schedule. The more we roll out Band 14, the more we’re able to provide first responders with truly dedicated coverage and capacity across the country to help them reliably connect to the critical information they need when they need it.

And in the coming months, FirstNet subscribers will be getting another boost in their connectivity. AT&T and Assured Wireless Corporation are working together to develop safe and effective solutions that bring first responders the true benefits of high-power user equipment (HPUE). Following 3GPP standards, HPUE solutions can transmit at stronger signals. This signal increase can only be done using the FirstNet Band 14 spectrum.

That’s huge for public safety. For rural and remote responders, HPUE could triple the coverage range of a cell site. For urban and suburban responders, this will help solve the common challenge of indoor coverage. The stronger signal will be better able to reach those hard to connect places like basements, elevators, stairwells and parking garages, helping first responders communicate inside and out.

“Our collaboration with AT&T is a perfect example of technology’s power to do great things for public safety,” said Tom Bilotta, CEO of Assured Wireless Corporation. “The standards-based HPUE solutions that we plan to bring forward will build on the unique capabilities of FirstNet to further strengthen first responders’ ability to communicate no matter where their mission takes them.”

Increased Reliability, Redundancy and Resiliency Through Disasters

Since establishing the FirstNet Response Operations Program a year ago, public safety has turned to FirstNet to help support them during both planned and emergency events. This year alone, we have helped first responders stay connected during nearly 75 emergency events. From wildfires and floods, to a tropical storm turned hurricane and tornadoes, to search and rescue missions in remote locations and more, FirstNet has been there.

"The support we received from FirstNet during the record rainfall and flooding earlier this year was second to none," said Keenan Campbell, Situation Unit Leader – Illinois Incident Management Team. "Having a FirstNet SatCOLT rapidly deployed and onsite to keep our command post connected to our broader team was an invaluable asset to our mission, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that I have a network that will be there when and where I need it."

“FirstNet is the real deal,” said John Rockwell, Statewide 9-1-1 Coordinator, FirstNet SPOC, Acting SWIC, Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers. “We helped organize deployment to fight a fire in northern Alaska last month, and we needed communications. A FirstNet SatCOLT was there in 5 hours. It was the furthest north we’ve ever had unified communications, making our ability to respond that much easier and more efficient.”

Plus, we’ve supported agencies at more than 100 planned events this year, including coast-to-coast 4th of July celebrations. First responders have also relied on FirstNet during music festivals, sporting events and speaker rallies for public officials.

When emergencies strike, it’s also critical that 911 call centers have the tools they need to maintain operations. To help 911 communicators stay connected during potential service-impacting situations, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) can now use FirstNet as a wireless backup solution to AT&T ESInet – a smarter, modernized 911 call-routing service.

This backup capability is enabled by AT&T Private Mobile Connection, which connects AT&T ESInet to FirstNet for added redundancy. If AT&T ESInet detects a failure in the primary connection to the PSAP, emergency calls will be automatically routed over FirstNet. Keeping PSAPs connected during critical times helps improve emergency response and enables 911 communicators to provide seamless service to the community until the primary connection is restored.

Enhanced Situational Awareness and Security

The FirstNet communications platform goes beyond delivering reliable and redundant connectivity to public safety. It builds on that connectivity with innovative apps that can cost-effectively transform capabilities, drive efficiencies, enhance situational awareness and increase security. New apps launched in and coming to the public safety-curated FirstNet App Catalog include:

  • FirstNet Assist – Now FirstNet Certified and available in the FirstNet App Catalog, this solution allows public safety support personnel in the field to see mutual aid incidents within a 50-mile radius and request device uplift. This app also provides all users with direct access to dedicated FirstNet Care specialists specially trained to help first responders and device diagnostics.

  • Response for FirstNet – This low-cost, simple-to-use situational awareness platform now provides new features to FirstNet subscribers, like live location, media sharing and team mobilization, to support day-to-day and emergency operations.

  • FirstNet Cybersecurity Awareness – When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s no secret that people are considered the first line of defense. This holds true for public safety. So, this app, coming soon to the FirstNet App Catalog, will provide public safety agencies with easy-to-use educational materials that help keep cybersecurity top of mind. The app will also include training videos that simply breakdown cybersecurity concerns like social engineering, phishing and spoofing, so first responders have the tools they need to stay cyber-aware and cyber-safe.

“As we planned for FirstNet, we worked hand-in-hand with public safety across the nation to help us design a network to meet their critical communications needs,” said Jeff Bratcher, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, FirstNet Authority. “We are pleased with the progress AT&T continues to make to fulfill the promise of FirstNet – delivering the tools public safety asked for to help with their lifesaving mission. This is public safety’s network, and we will continue to engage with them to advance their network, FirstNet, for years to come.”

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)

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