According to a recent press release from AT&T, its FirstNet first responder network is going strong. The company was tasked by the US Government with creating a nationwide, closed first responder network and it looks like they are hitting it out of the park. They recently announced that they’ve signed up over 3,600 public safety agencies, an increase of 50% in under two months. That’s a really impressive jump and it signals AT&T’s ability to bring even more first responders on board and meet the government’s deadlines.
What is FirstNet?
FirstNet is a nationwide cellular network designed solely for first responders. It came about because life in the 21st century requires that people work together. In the past, problems were local. However, the last twenty years have seen our country take on challenges none of us ever expected. These challenges mean that different groups have to work together.
The system of radio communication used by police, fire and medical personnel was actually developed so that agencies couldn’t communicate. For the sake of security and privacy, different groups talked on their own radios which weren’t monitored or used by anyone else.
Communicating between agencies was once very hard. Someone in the field called dispatch, then that dispatcher called another dispatcher on the phone. Then the message went out over the radio to the person who needed it. Of course that sounds silly today when we all have cell phones, but that was the world back in the 20th century.
The problem, however, is that cell phone networks tend to get crowded just when you need them to stay clear. In the case of a disaster or incident, people call each other and clog up cell service. That’s why the government created FirstNet, a special cell network that can be used only for first responders to talk to each other.
FirstNet uses special cell phones that can communicate using the FirstNet cell frequencies. More and more phones will work with this frequency, known as Band 14, but the phones must be registered with AT&T. When an emergency is declared, only phones that have been registered will be allowed to operate on Band 14. That’s why AT&T needs those registrations. Registered first responders, whether volunteer, part of private agencies, or part of the government, will get all the bandwidth they need.
FirstNet proves itself during recent hurricanes
First responders were armed with FirstNet services during Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence recently. This allowed first responders to quickly set up a portable cell site. That site allowed all the agencies to coordinate in the hardest-hit areas. It’s hard to know what impact FirstNet had, but the folks whose boots were on the ground were certainly glad to have reliable cell communication when they needed it.
First Responders… we’re here for you.
Are you looking to implement FirstNet for yourself? Do you want to get an awesome discount on cell service? Your first stop should be Signal Connect, the corporate arm of Solid Signal. Why not get all the benefits that are coming to you? Start with a call to 866.726.4182 and we’ll get everything going.