FirstNet Brings a One-of-a-Kind 5G Experience to More First Responders Across the Country
FirstNet | August 16, 2021
FirstNet – the only nationwide network built with and for America's first responders – is keeping public safety connected unlike any other network. Here's 3 strategic ways:
Expanding the FirstNet 5G footprint: As public safety's communications partner, AT&T* has expanded 5G connectivity for first responders on FirstNet to further support public safety's mission needs. Now, first responders in an additional 10 cities across the United States – Austin (Texas), Charlotte (N. Carolina), Cleveland (Ohio), Dallas (Texas), El Paso (Texas), Houston (Texas), Knoxville (Tenn.), Phoenix (Ariz.), Raleigh (N. Carolina) and San Antonio (Texas) –have access to 5G.
Deploying MegaRange™ for Disaster Response: Since launching FirstNet MegaRange earlier this year – which significantly improves connectivity, especially at the edge of network coverage – public safety has started experiencing its exclusive benefits as they respond to everyday emergencies and disasters. From remote patient care to the frontlines of wildfire response, MegaRange is keeping first responders connected at the edge of coverage when lives are on the line.
Launching nationwide interoperability with AT&T ESInet: To increase the flexibility and resiliency of AT&T NextGen 9-1-1 services, AT&T ESInet is now integrated with the FirstNet network. By serving as an automatic wireless backup to connect to public safety answering points (PSAP), FirstNet enables the delivery of IP-based 9-1-1 call traffic through the AT&T Virtual Private Network (VPN).
How is 5G connectivity on FirstNet different from commercial networks? Our approach to 5G for public safety is unlike anything else. While 5G connectivity will ultimately bring a combination of benefits like ultra-low latency and ultra-high speeds to support all kinds of users, it's essential we approach 5G in a different way for first responders. That's why, with FirstNet, we're taking the right steps for public safety in a way that meets their unique mission needs. First responders maintain voice communications with priority and preemption on LTE, while the FirstNet network determines the best route for data traffic, whether that's 5G or LTE spectrum.
In addition to the 10 cities that now have access to AT&T's 5G spectrum, first responders in parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues already have access to AT&T mmWave (5G+) spectrum. And since we're deploying 5G the right way for public safety, they maintain always-on priority and preemption across LTE – Band 14 spectrum plus all of AT&T's commercial LTE spectrum bands – which currently covers 2.71 million square miles of the country. By the end of 2021, we expect to offer 5G+ connectivity in parts of more than 40 cities and 40 venues. And we're continuing to roll out additional 5G connectivity for FirstNet in more communities nationwide.
How can first responders get 5G connectivity on FirstNet? As a FirstNet subscriber there is no additional charge for 5G connectivity. All first responders need to access 5G is a FirstNet Ready® 5G device, like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G or the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, which are now available for pre-order. And to ensure public safety everywhere can access the power of FirstNet, individual verified first responders not already on FirstNet can sign up online or at the more than 5,000 AT&T retail stores across the country.
How does MegaRange support first responders' emergency response? Adhering to FCC standards, this high-power user equipment (HPUE) is only available on the FirstNet network thanks to Band 14 spectrum: nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the federal government specifically for FirstNet. It provides public safety with significant coverage benefits in both urban and rural areas. The greatest coverage improvement is in areas where data connectivity is traditionally unreliable, such as remote regions, rural areas and maritime environments.
Agencies like Bangs Ambulance in Ithaca, New York have been utilizing FirstNet MegaRange to deliver critical patient care and transmit vital data from the field directly to local hospitals – a daily feat that was once near-impossible due to challenging terrain. And now, firefighters are experiencing MegaRange's unique benefits as they combat this year's record-breaking wildfire season. For example, Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District in Oregon used MegaRange during their response to the Grandview Fire, which has burned just over 6,000 acres and threated hundreds of homes. The fire was in a notoriously difficult communications area (for both cellular and radio transmissions), and MegaRange enabled key personnel to provide live situational awareness to commanders via call, text and other FirstNet certified applications.
And as the 2021 wildfire season continues to escalate, we've joined forces with Airgain to provide public safety with significant cost savings and make this exclusive capability more accessible to agencies across the country.
How does AT&T ESInet increase reliability with FirstNet? AT&T is the only carrier that can provide end-to-end emergency communication solutions, and as the private-partner behind FirstNet, we are also uniquely positioned to equip PSAPs and first responders with an integrated infrastructure that allows them to be more flexible, resilient and agile. Interoperability with FirstNet enables AT&T ESInet to extend network connectivity to remote PSAPs that are either hard to reach or experiencing an outage. In the event AT&T ESInet detects a failure of the primary connection to the PSAP, the service automatically routes calls over the FirstNet network to maintain continuity of operation and delivery of 9-1-1 calls. This interoperability also creates a foundation for future Next Generation 9-1-1 applications that can be used for sharing caller and incident information, such as location, images, video and text, with first responders over a private, highly secure, end-to-end path.
What is FirstNet? FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America's first responders and the extended public safety community. Shaped by the vision of Congress and the first responder community following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. While commercial wireless offerings remain available to public safety, FirstNet continues to grow because it offers distinct advantages for public safety. With more than 17,000 public safety agencies and organizations – accounting for more than 2.5 million connections nationwide1 – the FirstNet network is providing first responders with truly dedicated, coverage and capacity when they need it, unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities help fire, EMS, law enforcement and more save lives and protect their communities.