FirstNet Crosses 2.81 Million Square Miles of Network

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AT&T is America’s public safety communications partner. In the nearly 5 years since we were selected by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) to build and operate FirstNet®, we have moved quickly to bring more coverage, boost capacity and drive new capabilities for first responders and the communities they serve – rural, urban and tribal.

And now the public safety community on FirstNet has access to the nation’s largest coverage footprint, reaching more than 2.81 million square miles across the country. That means we cover 50,000+ more square miles than the largest commercial networks (about the size of Alabama) – giving more first responders access to an entire ecosystem of innovative solutions to keep them mission ready.

Public safety agencies and organizations in thousands of communities across the country are staying connected with FirstNet, Built with AT&T. And now, more first responders are gaining access to a one-of-a-kind 5G experience on FirstNet. 5G connectivity on FirstNet has launched in 10 new areas – Savannah (Georgia), Western Kansas, Lansing (Michigan), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Toledo (Ohio), Charleston (South Carolina), Hilton Head (South Carolina), Sioux Falls (South Dakota), Richmond (Virginia) and Redmond (Washington) – to further support public safety’s unique mission needs. These areas join 10 other previously announced cities. Public safety also has access to 5G+ (mmWave) spectrum in parts of more than 40 cities and 35 stadiums and venues. And we’re continuing to roll out additional 5G connectivity for FirstNet in more communities nationwide.

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AT&T has also deployed Band 14 spectrum nationwide. Band 14, public safety’s VIP lane, is nationwide, high-quality spectrum licensed to the FirstNet Authority for public safety specifically on the FirstNet network. In an emergency this band – or lane – can be cleared and locked exclusively for first responders and the extended public safety community. This is vital because, as seen at this year’s Big Game, a first responder used 2+ times more data for their critical communications as compared to a general consumer.

Tens of thousands of communities are benefitting from the unique capabilities of Band 14. Since launching public safety’s network, we’ve upgraded tens of thousands of existing AT&T cell sites with public safety’s Band 14 spectrum, helping to surpass 95% of our Band 14 coverage target with the FirstNet Authority, as well as reaching several hundred thousand additional square miles that exceed our contractual target commitment. And we continue to roll out Band 14 to help provide public safety with dedicated connectivity when needed.

Strengthening Public Safety’s Network Infrastructure

The FCC estimates that over 10,000 lives could be saved each year if public safety were able to reach callers just 1 minute faster. And since 80% of wireless calls take place indoors, the need for in-building dedicated public safety connectivity is essential to public safety operations and overall safety. That’s why we are collaborating with Safer Buildings Coalition, the nation’s leading industry advocacy group focused on advancing policies, ideas, and technologies that ensure effective in-building communications capabilities for public safety personnel and the people they serve.

Further reinforcing the reliability of FirstNet, we’ve gone farther than anyone in the industry to secure public safety’s communications. FirstNet is now the first-ever nationwide network with comprehensive tower-to-core network encryption. And since FirstNet is designed with a defense-in-depth security strategy that goes well beyond standard commercial network security measures, first responders have superior protection without sacrificing usability or impacting public safety’s missions.

Today, FirstNet is solving for common and long-standing communications challenges that first responders face – things like interoperability, network congestion and commercial network providers slowing public safety’s data connection. FirstNet is giving them superior coverage for day-to-day response and life-saving missions. While commercial wireless offerings remain available to public safety, FirstNet continues to grow because it offers distinct advantages from those commercial offerings. FirstNet comes with unique features, functionality and dedicated spectrum when needed for the public safety community. That’s why public safety fought for their own, separate, dedicated platform, championing the vision that led to the creation of FirstNet.

Jason Porter, President, Public Sector and FirstNet, AT&T, said,
“Interoperable connectivity is the foundation of FirstNet and the entire public safety-centric ecosystem it is driving. As public safety’s partner, we’ve moved faster than anyone to deliver more coverage across tribal, rural and urban areas, powering the connections first responders count on most. And we’re doing it all with a hyper focus on the unique security, resiliency and reliability that their missions demand. Public safety is our priority and we’ll continue to be there for this vital community – no matter where their mission takes them.”

Edward Parkinson, CEO, FirstNet Authority, commented, “We are pleased to see FirstNet continue to grow and deliver coverage and capacity where public safety said they need it the most. The FirstNet Authority has taken a public-safety-first approach that is unlike commercial networks. As we head into the 5th year of network deployment with our partner AT&T, we will continue to keep public safety at the forefront of everything we do.”

Jonathan Nez, President, Navajo Nation, said, “The Navajo Nation continues to work with the FirstNet Authority and AT&T to build out FirstNet coverage throughout the Navajo Nation as part of a large collaborative effort to better serve our Navajo people, especially those in underserved areas. Ninety FirstNet towers sites have launched on the Navajo Nation so far, and we’re continuing to work together with the FirstNet Authority and AT&T to get additional sites launched. The FirstNet buildout represents a historic investment in broadband infrastructure for the Navajo Nation. Our first responders have used FirstNet mobile technology during wildfires, large public events and for COVID-19 mitigation efforts. We look forward to expanding our telecommunications capabilities further to provide more resources for our frontline warriors with the help of FirstNet.”

Jeanine Sterling, Industry Director, Frost & Sullivan, said, “As weather events intensify and commercial power grids flicker in and out, first responder communications can become less reliable just when it becomes most critical. AT&T recognizes that secure, reliable communications are paramount, and Frost & Sullivan is impressed with the network resiliency measures that AT&T continues to take to help public safety personnel stay connected even under the most trying conditions. One of AT&T’s latest moves, establishing a tertiary link—a backup for a backup—is an extensive process that injects even more reliability and further differentiates AT&T and FirstNet as custodians of Public Safety’s network.”