FirstNet CEO commends AT&T for stepping up and prioritizing FirstNet's service in a statement discussing the February 22 outage. He writes that outage is 'the top order of business' at the FirstNet Authority's next meeting.

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

March 1, 2024

2 Min Read
AT&T's global network operations center (Source: AT&T)

The FirstNet Authority said this week that AT&T's network outage in the early morning hours of February 22 affected it for about three hours before FirstNet service was restored "by around 5:00 a.m. CST."

"The FirstNet Authority recognizes that AT&T put public safety first during the outage. Resilience is crucial in the face of adversity, and AT&T stepped up and prioritized the restoration of FirstNet," wrote Joe Wassel, executive director and CEO of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

Wassel is doing the only thing most government agencies can do in times of crisis: He's forming a task force, and there will be meetings. 

Task force formed to strengthen comms, processes

He writes that he has established a "FirstNet Authority After-Action Task Force comprised of public safety, technical, and emergency management experts" on his team. Wassel writes that the group will ensure that the next AT&T outage or similar service interruption is sorted and overcome in an even shorter time.

Wassel notes that the FirstNet Authority Board will meet again on March 6. "The outage will be the top order of business at this meeting, and we will discuss steps to strengthen the network and ensure FirstNet continues to be the most resilient and reliable broadband network for public safety."

Related:Counting the cost of AT&T's outage

From there, we'll find out what a task force can do. We suspect it will increase spending on processes, assurance and technology to minimize the impact of future network problems. What else can it do? FirstNet is committed, AT&T is entrenched and network outages are "the reality of our business," according to AT&T CEO John Stankey.  

On February 13, days before the AT&T outage, FirstNet announced it was "launching the next phase of FirstNet through a series of strategic investments totaling more than $8 billion over 10 years." AT&T didn't change its financial guidance when that investment was announced; the carrier does not disclose how much it profits from FirstNet.

"No company is better suited to answer the call for widespread connectivity than AT&T," Stankey wrote to employees on February 25.

Even, we assume, if that call was made over Wi-Fi.

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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