AT&T: 250,000 FirstNet Subscribers, 3,600 Public-Safety Agencies
Tuesday, October 23, 2018 | Comments

More than 3,600 public-safety agencies across the country have joined the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), making the total number of subscribers more than 250,000.

In late August, AT&T reported 150,000 FirstNet connections and 2,500 public-safety agency subscribers.

“Much work still needs to be done to make sure FirstNet is a solution that meets the needs of all first responders,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president AT&T FirstNet. “But we’re proud of how FirstNet has been delivering for first responders and the communities they serve when help is most needed. And we’re honored to see public safety embrace their network.”

“We moved to the FirstNet system a few months before Hurricane Michael hit,” said Doug Cofty, Colquitt Miller, Georgia, emergency services director. “And it was a no-brainer. Having the communications capabilities FirstNet provides was critical following the storm’s devastation. Gaining that peace of mind around our communications meant we could focus on what mattered most — supporting our community.”

The FirstNet network platform is continuing to serve the thousands of first responders and National Guard members who are still actively aiding in Hurricane Michael recovery efforts. AT&T stationed two FirstNet satellite cell on light trucks (SatCOLTs) at the Harders Base Camp in Panama City, Florida.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe Police Department in South Dakota recently conducted a search-and-rescue mission for a missing person in the area. Being in a rural part of the state, the department requested a FirstNet deployable network asset to provide needed coverage for the operation.

“In situations like these, communications is critical, and time is of the essence,” said Yankton Sioux Tribal Police Chief Chris Saunsoci. “Knowing the mission was focused in an area with limited coverage, we requested a FirstNet SatCOLT to boost our connectivity. Communications were in place within hours of our request, helping us carry out our operation.”

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is New Mexico’s largest annual event. It attracts more than 900,000 visitors every October, and more than a dozen first responder agencies are responsible for the safety of the event. AT&T provided devices and technical assistance to help those first responders stay connected.

This year, the fiesta also employed a drone detection system operated by Aerial Armor to monitor restricted airspace above Balloon Fiesta Park and the surrounding area. AT&T provided FirstNet connectivity to the system to help it maintain peak performance.

“Prior to connecting via FirstNet, we were seeing signal dropouts,” said Brandon Lugo, operations manager at Aerial Armor. “This interrupted our ability to properly monitor the event. We worked with public-safety officials at the fiesta to get connected to FirstNet, allowing our operations to run much smoother. It also enabled us to get the right information like pictures and text messages to law enforcement right away.”

According to preliminary numbers, there were 46 drone detections in the restricted airspace during the nine-day event with 12 to 15 apprehensions.

“With congestion on the network, we typically don’t have the connectivity we need via a traditional carrier to communicate at the level we need to coordinate with the people working in the park,” said New Mexico State Police Sgt. Steven Carroll. “FirstNet gave us that. I was able to get real-time pictures and videos of incidents that needed attention from law enforcement. The ability to stop potential issues before they negatively impacted attendees was monumental.”

Separately, the town of Derry (New Hampshire) Police Department subscribed to FirstNet. Last year, New Hampshire was the only state to opt out of FirstNet, but then reversed its decision before the deadline.

“Through a strong collaborative effort on behalf of the FirstNet Authority, AT&T and the state of New Hampshire, public safety will benefit when taking the opportunity to experience next-generation communication technology,” said John T. Stevens, New Hampshire’s statewide interoperability coordinator (SWIC). “The Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee has worked diligently over the past few years to provide broadband capability to many areas of the state that have not experienced it in the past.”

“We’re proud to be the first municipal agency in New Hampshire to adopt FirstNet,” said Derry Police Chief Edward Garone. “Being in public safety, it’s imperative to have reliable communications that we can count on when the town of Derry is counting on us. FirstNet will enable us to provide an enhanced emergency response for our residents — one that’s supported by the most current public-safety technology available.”

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