The US Air Force said it will use FirstNet, working on AT&T's network, across 15 military bases.

October 5, 2021

3 Min Read

OAKTON, Va. – The U.S. Air Force has selected FirstNet®, Built with AT&T – the only nationwide high-speed broadband communications platform built with and for first responders and those who support them – to deliver reliable, always-on priority communications to its public safety personnel and, for first responders, preemption, on 15 bases across the country. The agreement struck between the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) and AT&T* provides for the delivery of FirstNet connectivity for 21 years: the remaining life of the public-private partnership between the U.S. government and AT&T.

Why is this important? Modernizing communications is a top priority for the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense. The Air Force is delivering on this strategy by investing to improve network coverage and adopting FirstNet initially across 15 bases while it considers expanding FirstNet accessibility to others.

FirstNet offers a wide range of mission-centric capabilities to support communications among base first responders and public safety personnel. It supports reliable, secure and interoperable communications among on- and off-base public safety personnel when collaborating to mitigate incidents that threaten the safety of airmen and the general public. Unlike commercial networks, FirstNet is built to public safety's strict specifications and requirements. And the FirstNet network comes with unique features, functionality, and a dedicated lane of connectivity for the Air Force's military and public safety community to help them connect to critical information they need when they need it.

In addition, with FirstNet, these U.S. Air Force bases will have access to a dedicated nationwide fleet of 100+ land-based and airborne portable cell sites stationed across the country to provide connectivity during significant events in support of public safety's mission. These critical response assets are available 24/7 at no additional charge.

How would the Air Force benefit from FirstNet? With a physically separate, dedicated core, FirstNet provides public safety personnel always-on priority and, for first responders, preemption, across LTE – Band 14 spectrum plus all of AT&T's commercial LTE spectrum bands. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet that allows for capabilities that other spectrum bands don't. Plus, the FirstNet core has been upgraded to enable reliable 5G connectivity. These upgrades will allow these Air Force bases to have access to network connectivity with increased capacity and high throughput speeds on the FirstNet core, as well as 5G-powered network edge computing capabilities that will support increased bandwidth efficiencies and the creation of innovative edge-based solutions.

FirstNet offers these Air Force bases interoperability with existing land mobile radio assets and with first responders off base. FirstNet supports voice, data, and streaming video communications with priority and preemption among base and local community first responders when needed.

FirstNet is the first-ever nationwide network to introduce comprehensive tower-to-core encryption based on open industry standards. FirstNet traffic can be automatically secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again. FirstNet continues to grow because it offers distinct advantages from commercial offerings. And the more than 17,000 agencies and organizations – accounting for more than 2.5 million connections nationwide – would agree.1


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