AT&T Launches Several New FirstNet Services Including HPUE, Z-Axis
Tuesday, January 26, 2021 | Comments

FirstNet, built with AT&T, launched four new solutions, including high power user equipment (HPUE) and Z-axis support, to help public safety in its mission.

“First responders are the heart of FirstNet, and it is their input that is shaping the new tools and technologies on their network, today and for decades to come,” said Jason Porter, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T. “These innovative mission-driven solutions are equipping first responders with better situational awareness — whether conducting a search and rescue mission in a remote area or on the upper floors of a burning building — all while helping to ensure a seamless, interoperable connection. These are just a few of the ways that FirstNet, public safety’s network, stands above commercial offerings.”

FirstNet MegaRange is FirstNet’s solution for HPUE. The solution follows Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and FCC standards allow public safety to take advantage of the highest power class signaling that is only available on FirstNet’s band 14 spectrum.

For rural, remote and maritime first responders, the solution can significantly improve connectivity, especially at the edge of network coverage, and for urban and suburban responders, this can help solve the common challenge of difficult coverage spots.

The strong signal can help those who are connecting from hard-to-reach places such as building shadows, parking garages, basements, elevators and stairwells, helping first responders communicate inside and out.

“We think it’s a real game-changer when it comes to public-safety communications from all points of view,” said Bob LaRose, vice president of business development at Assured Wireless, a provider of HUE modems.

LaRose said that HPUE can provide up to six times the power level of a standard device. That power level is only allowed on FirstNet’s band 14 spectrum in the U.S.

“We move the edge of the cell out further to maintain the higher speed,” LaRose said. “Indeed, when you get quite a ways out, the uplink speed gets much higher than the standard device because we’re giving a better signal to the base station.”

Z-Axis for FirstNet is the FirstNet network’s Z-axis solution. FirstNet said that the solution shows a map that shows you where you are standing as well as how high up you are in a building, as well as the locations of team members. The Z-axis solution is currently available in 40 markets including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

AT&T said it plans to add additional markets weekly, and that the solution gives public safety a new level of indoor spatial awareness that was not previously available with traditional GPS-based location methods. Intrepid Networks’ Response for FirstNet is the first situational awareness platform to bring the Z-Axis capability to market.

With the Compact Rapid Deployable (CRD), public-safety agencies can now also purchase their own deployable network assets. The agency-owned cells on wheels (COW) can be deployed by a single person within a matter of minutes. FirstNet CRDs link to FirstNet via satellite and do not rely on commercial power availability, making them ideal for use during emergencies in rural and remote areas, as well as areas where communications may be temporarily unavailable.

Finally, FirstNet launched LMR Interoperability for FirstNet Push-to-Talk, FirstNet’s mission-critical push-to-talk (MCPTT) solution. The new solutions supports LMR-to-LTE interoperability, allowing first responders using LMR to seamlessly communicate with users on FirstNet PTT. AT&T also said that 11 FirstNet Ready devices are now approved for FirstNet PTT.

"It is exciting to see the FirstNet marketplace continue to flourish and meet the unique needs of public safety,” First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) CEO Edward Parkinson. “These new mission-ready features are delivering life-saving capabilities into the hands of first responders. The FirstNet Authority will continue to work with our public-safety community to innovate and advance their network."

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