AT&T Announces Plans for High-Power User Equipment, Updates Subscriber Figures
Monday, August 12, 2019 | Comments
AT&T announced it is working with high-power user equipment (HPUE) supplier Assured Wireless to bring 1.25-watt devices to First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) subscribers. Following Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards, HPUE solutions can transmit at stronger signals only on 700 MHz band 14 spectrum.

FCC approvals for the devices for signal absorption rate (SAR) still have to be met, said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T. Most two-way radios generally have 4 watts transmit power.

Initially, HPUE, which will be tested internally by AT&T this year, will be used in vehicles and buildings and could create a Wi-Fi hot spot. Sambar said HPUE smartphones would require the use of remote speaker microphones (RSMs) and other accessories rather than being held near the head like a typical smartphone.

For rural and remote responders, HPUE could significantly increase their coverage areas. For urban and suburban responders, the technology can help solve indoor coverage challenges. The stronger signal will better assist those connecting from hard-to-reach places such as basements, elevators, stairwells and parking garages.

“Our collaboration with AT&T is a perfect example of technology’s power to do great things for public safety,” said Tom Bilotta, CEO of Assured Wireless. “The standards-based HPUE solutions that we plan to bring forward will build on the unique capabilities of FirstNet to further strengthen first responders’ ability to communicate no matter where their mission takes them.”

Nearly 9,000 public-safety agencies and organizations have subscribed to FirstNet, accounting for more than 750,000 connections in service, the carrier said. The number of markets with band 14 spectrum nears 650.

“As we grow and evolve FirstNet, we’re proud to connect more members of the public-safety community and further empower the men and women we rely on to keep us safe with the advanced communications capabilities needed to help strengthen their mission delivery,” Sambar said.

According to the results of tests taken with Speedtest as analyzed by AT&T, FirstNet once again performed faster than any commercial network for the second consecutive quarter.

Since establishing the FirstNet Response Operations Program a year ago, the deployable assets have helped public safety during 75 emergency events and more than 100 planned events this year.

"The support we received from FirstNet during the record rainfall and flooding earlier this year was second to none," said Keenan Campbell, situation unit leader – Illinois Incident Management Team. "Having a FirstNet SatCOLT (satellite cell on a light truck) rapidly deployed and onsite to keep our command post connected to our broader team was an invaluable asset to our mission, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that I have a network that will be there when and where I need it."

In addition, AT&T said 9-1-1 call centers can now use FirstNet as a wireless backup solution to AT&T ESInet. This backup capability is enabled by AT&T Private Mobile Connection, which connects AT&T ESInet to FirstNet for added redundancy. If AT&T ESInet detects a failure in the primary connection to the PSAP, emergency calls will be automatically routed over FirstNet.

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