AT&T Details How Nashville Explosion Affected FirstNet Service, Restoration Efforts
Tuesday, January 05, 2021 | Comments

A Christmas morning bombing in Nashville knocked out FirstNet services for several hours due to commercial power outages and the exhaustion of backup power sources.

Early Christmas morning, an RV that was parked on a Nashville street exploded, damaging buildings nearby, including an AT&T facility.

“The Christmas morning explosion caused significant physical damage to a regional switching and core network hub that handles voice, data and video traffic across our wireless and fiber networks,” an AT&T spokesperson said. “Unlike many other nearby buildings, however, our facility remained structurally stable, illustrating the resiliency and design elements of this heavily hardened facility.”

The spokesperson said that AT&T’s network equipment in the facility was not directly knocked out by the explosion, allowing services to continue on temporary battery backup. However, those temporary power sources died around noon and commercial power service remained down, leading to some FirstNet service disruptions in Nashville and other parts of Tennessee, as well as in regions of Kentucky and Alabama, the spokesperson said.

“FirstNet customers were impacted, but within hours dedicated FirstNet portable cell sites were operational in the immediate area,” the spokesperson said. A press release from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) said that FirstNet services were restored within four hours of going out.

“Based upon our initial analysis, it appears the FirstNet network infrastructure was not directly impacted by the explosion, and service continued operating on temporary battery power in the hours immediately following the event,” the press release said. “However, because the bomb destroyed two local water mains, backup power generators were flooded and inoperable, and there was insufficient time to reroute all services before backup batteries were exhausted.”

The AT&T spokesperson said that crews were unable to get into the building for recovery work until 12 hours after the explosion due to law enforcement securing the crime scene and local authorities completing structural assessments of buildings impacted by the explosion.

“Thanks to the heroic efforts of our team and the cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement, we restored most service within 48 hours of the event,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that AT&T’s Response Operations Group (ROG) handled about 50 requests for support from agencies responding to the explosion during the first five days of the response. All told, AT&T deployed 25 portable cell sites during the response and at one point had 21 portable cell sites operating simultaneously.

“While we are proud of the resiliency of our building and equipment in the face of direct hit and the quick and effective response, we always learn from disasters and improve our processes and protocols,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that following the explosion, AT&T increased security at key network sites in other areas of the countries. The company is using what it learned from the event to “re-examine route resiliency and identify opportunities to further diversify its network.”

“The magnitude of the bombing was severe,” the spokesperson said. “The response in Nashville and resulting timely restoration of service was unprecedented and is a direct result of AT&T’s industry-leading investment in our personnel, our network and disaster recovery team and our strong working relationships with local officials and public-safety agencies.”

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On 1/8/21, DEfan said:
AT T says it was a hardened structure but if you have seen the videos it is just a neighborhood with standard building unless there was a second bomb. Also Spectrum phone service was out for over a week and neighter AT T or Spectrum admitted that they shared lines at the time. Over a week later Spectrum voice admitted they used AT T for a majority of their phone voice system but neither admitted the extent of the damage even 4-5 days after the explosion. Let s not put so many eggs in one basket including our first responders communications.


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