AT&T customers and FirstNet subscribers got a big boost in wireless connectivity last year. AT&T has increased the LTE coverage area for the AT&T network and FirstNet public safety communications platform by more than 50,000 square miles nationwide, covering an additional 1 million individuals.
Need a reference mark for the square miles? That’s bigger than the size of Louisiana.
The added LTE coverage is a result of our ongoing network build initiatives to expand and enhance connectivity for consumers and first responders in both urban and rural areas – on both indoor and outdoor sites.
“The demand for data has been on a nonstop, upward trajectory for years,” said Marachel Knight, senior vice president, wireless and access engineering, construction and operations, AT&T. “Our ongoing work to launch new sites and build out our LTE network is delivering increased network speeds and capacity. By the end of this year, we expect our network capacity to increase by 50% since the end of 2017 while simultaneously laying the foundation for a 5G future.”
We’ve also deployed Band 14 spectrum in over 500 markets, further increasing the platform’s coverage and capacity across the country. That’s a major plus for the more than 5,250 public safety agencies using 425,000+ connections on FirstNet today. That’s also more than a 60% increase in the number of connections since the end of October 2018.
“We’re moving fast to bring the unique features and benefits of FirstNet to life. We’re less than a year into the Band 14 build and months ahead of schedule. And we already cover more than 40% of our total FirstNet Band 14 rural and non-rural coverage targets. That’s about a 10% jump in the FirstNet square miles covered since last October,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, FirstNet at AT&T. “Witnessing the real, tangible and – at times – life-saving impacts that FirstNet had in 2018 fuels us to keep moving quickly to blanket the country with reliable connectivity. And we’re set for the explosive growth ahead.”
“With FirstNet, AT&T is focused on delivering a network that’s second to none, and the quick progress they’ve made with their accelerated build shows that they’re taking this mission seriously,” said Roger Entner, founder and analyst at Recon Analytics. “Both rural and urban communities will be able to benefit from the added connectivity.”
When it comes to building out the FirstNet communications platform, AT&T has 3 areas of focus:
Connecting rural and remote responders. FirstNet is for all first responders. That’s why reaching rural and remote parts of America is one of our top priorities. Areas that are underway and currently benefitting from our build include the Black Hills of South Dakota where nearly half a million people gather for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the farming communities of Tulare County, Calif., and tribal lands within the Chickasaw Nation in south-central Oklahoma.
Increasing capacity for urban responders. In areas where coverage already exists, we’re helping first responders get the capacity they need to get the job done. That’s why urban and suburban centers in markets like Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and more got a Band 14 boost.
Keeping public safety connected with innovative solutions. We offer innovative solutions to help public safety communicate no matter where their mission takes them. This includes the nationwide fleet of 72 FirstNet dedicated deployable assets – available 24/7 upon request and at no additional charge. FirstNet subscribers can also purchase their own deployable network assets from our First Responders Mobility Zone program. Or they can get a Rapid Deployment Kit, which is a portable briefcase that allows first responders to quickly establish connectivity where they need it.
FirstNet is being built in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority). This helps to ensure that the FirstNet communications platform and service offerings meet the short- and long-term needs of the public safety community.
“FirstNet is advancing quickly – both in terms of progress and adoption. It’s an incredible testament to the need first responders have for a dedicated, purpose-built network as well as the unparalleled capabilities FirstNet has already delivered. We are looking forward to the further expansion of FirstNet in the year ahead and will continue to work closely with first responders and AT&T to ensure FirstNet is being built to their specifications – coverage and capacity included,” said FirstNet Authority Acting CEO Edward Parkinson. “With the Band 14 buildout validated thus far, we’re pleased that more first responders in rural and urban areas have even more access to the connectivity and modern communications tools they need.”
Band 14 is high-quality spectrum provided by the FirstNet Authority. Its signal covers larger geographic areas with less infrastructure to better support rural communities, and it can better penetrate buildings and walls in more urban areas as compared to higher-MHz spectrum. When not in use by FirstNet subscribers, AT&T customers can enjoy Band 14’s added coverage and capacity.