DALLAS – What’s the news? As public safety’s partner, AT&T* is committed to evolving FirstNet to meet first responders’ needs and supporting innovative new technologies to help them stay mission ready. That’s why we’re announcing 3 major milestones for FirstNet, the only network built with public safety, for public safety:
- A first responder-centric approach to 5G
- Bringing comprehensive tower-to-core network encryption
- The FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition to better support responders holistically
First Responder-Centric 5G: Our approach to 5G for public safety is unlike anything else. We’ve upgraded the dedicated FirstNet network core to enable reliable 5G connectivity that is being built to intuitively provide America’s first responders with the most optimal experience. While 5G 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.
5G connectivity on FirstNet will be ideal for IoT and video intelligence solutions. Imagine being able to deploy cameras to the front gate of a stadium and screen attendees’ temperature to potentially help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Or using 5G in an ambulance to transmit patient data back to the emergency room. That’s just a few ways 5G on FirstNet could help public safety achieve their life-saving missions in the future.
First responders in Houston are already experiencing the unique, early benefits. And now, first responders in parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues will gain access to AT&T mmWave (5G+) spectrum this April, while also maintaining 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. This is the beginning of a multi-phase, multi-year journey to deliver full 5G capabilities on FirstNet for public safety, but we’re rolling out more locations all the time and will continue to approach 5G for public safety in a way that meets their unique mission needs.
Becoming the Only Network with Comprehensive Encryption: Security is paramount. That’s
why FirstNet is designed with a defense-in-depth security strategy that goes well beyond
standard commercial network security measures. This provides protection without sacrificing
usability or impacting public safety’s missions. And now, we’ve gone farther than anyone in the
industry to secure public safety communications by introducing comprehensive tower-to-core
encryption based on open industry standards. FirstNet will be the first-ever nationwide network
with this comprehensive network encryption. That means FirstNet traffic will be automatically
secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again.
Commercial networks may encrypt parts of the communications pathway, but only FirstNet will
have encryption along the entire route. To achieve this, we’re rolling out security upgrades on
every cell tower across the country. Houston and Cleveland are the first 2 cities to benefit this
month, with nationwide completion expected by Q1 2022.
FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition
Today, the FirstNet network turns 3! And when we set out on this historic and critical initiative, we committed to Be There for America’s first responders. We understand the service public safety provides to our communities does not come without personal sacrifice and burdens. That’s why we’ve gone beyond our commitment to build and operate FirstNet and established the FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition. With more than 2 dozen members – including organizations like the International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Emergency Management Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police, to name a few – the mission of the FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition is to integrate responder, community, industry and academic capabilities to support the health, wellness and readiness of America’s first responders. Read more about the FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition in our latest blog post.
How will 5G connectivity on FirstNet be different from commercial networks?
FirstNet was created to truly bring public safety communications into the 21st century. That
means reliable, secure and interoperable connectivity. 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 intuitive FirstNet network determines the best route for data traffic with compatible
devices, whether that’s 5G+ or LTE spectrum.
While commercial wireless offerings remain available to public safety, FirstNet continues to
grow because it offers distinct advantages from those commercial offerings. And the more than
15,000 agencies and organizations – accounting for more than 2 million connections nationwide
– would agree.