How AT&T’s FirstNet is delivering communication innovations for first responders


A year ago, AT&T brought Public Safety’s specialized communications platform to life with the launch of the FirstNet network core. It was a milestone moment for Public Safety – marking a significant communications advancement for first responders.

AT&T built the FirstNet evolved packet core from the ground up to meet Public Safety’s specific needs. The physically separate infrastructure on which it was architected is completely dedicated to FirstNet subscribers.

Because that’s what Public Safety expressly asked for. This was also critical to creating the highly secure communications environment that first responders demand.

To further enhance security, we applied our leadership in software-defined networking to the design of the FirstNet core. By using next-generation, virtualized security functions, we can more rapidly and flexibly respond to FirstNet subscribers’ security needs.

And while attempts have been made by others in the industry to imitate the FirstNet core’s dedicated, physically separate and highly secure environment, it continues to stand unmatched.

The FirstNet network core also continues to serve as a springboard for the new capabilities, next-generation functionality and innovative tools that will drive Public Safety’s capabilities forward.

Twelve months in.

Since its launch, more than 90 devices have been tested and approved to operate on the FirstNet network core, giving Public Safety access to the critical capabilities it enables. Of these, nearly 50 are FirstNet Ready™, which means they also support access to Band 14.

And then company continues to bring more devices to the FirstNet ecosystem. AT&T has just launched the ruggedized Kyocera DuraForce PRO 2, and it will soon be adding Panasonic’s TOUGHBOOK 33 and TOUGHBOOK 54.

More than 50 iOS and Android apps now reside in the FirstNet App Catalog, representing 30+ unique apps relevant to the public safety mission. Recent additions include AccessMyLan, Callyo’s 10-21 Video, CrisisGo, Lookout for Work and Pulsara. Two solutions from the Department of Homeland Security have also been added: eNIFOG and eAUXFOG.

The next 12 months.

To keep innovation for Public Safety going strong, AT&T is rolling out new tools that will continue to help FirstNet subscribers take advantage of the specialized FirstNet experience.

FirstNet Single Sign-On – First responders working a crime scene, fire or incident shouldn’t need to spend precious seconds repeatedly entering complex password to get and maintain application access. FirstNet Single Sign-On solves for that.

This new solution will give FirstNet subscribers easy access to participating applications and other mobile destinations while maintaining a highly secure environment without the need to constantly re-authenticate. It provides both user convenience and quick access in critical scenarios for first responders.

Encrypted Assets – AT&T is further fortifying the FirstNet-dedicated Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs). As FirstNet subscribers connect to these assets, their communications are encrypted across satellite links. This creates an even more secure network environment for Public Safety. The FirstNet SatCOLTs are part of the nationwide fleet of 72 dedicated deployable network assets available 24/7 at the request of FirstNet subscribers and at no additional charge.

FirstNet Assist – Available in the coming months, this app will take FirstNet customer care mobile. FirstNet Assist will also allow first responders that have been assigned a lower level of priority or FirstNet users providing essential services to support Public Safety – like utilities or transportation – to request priority uplift from the field. Once approved by the command post manager, this will enable these users to access higher priority levels. The ability to request priority uplift will be available upon entering a 50-mile radius of an emergency, making it even easier for command post managers to quickly uplift those critical to a response.

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