AT&T Launches 5G Service for FirstNet
Friday, April 02, 2021 | Comments

AT&T said that it will launch 5G service for FirstNet subscribers in parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues in April.

The carrier said that this initial launch is the first step in a multiphase, multiyear deployment of full 5G capabilities on the FirstNet network. More locations will continue to roll out throughout that deployment process, AT&T said.

“5G for FirstNet is not your typical 5G,” said Jason Porter, president, public sector and FirstNet, AT&T. “Now that’s no doubt that 5G has a lot to offer the entire public-safety community, but what’s more important is ensuring that as new technologies become available, whether it’s 5G, augmented reality, edge computing or others, that we take a first responder-centric view in how we approach its deployment.”

With the 5G capability, FirstNet subscribers will still have voice communications with priority and pre-emption on LTE. Meanwhile, the FirstNet network will determine the best route for data traffic with compatible devices, whether its 5G or LTE spectrum.

In addition to the launch of its 5G FirstNet service, AT&T said that it is introducing comprehensive tower-to-core encryption that is based on open industry standards. With the upgrade, traffic on the FirstNet network will be automatically secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again, the carrier said.

To make this transition to level of security, AT&T said it is rolling out security updates to each tower across its network. The new capability will first go live in Houston and Cleveland in April. Nationwide deployment is expected by the first quarter of 2022.

“We are excited to bring 5G to FirstNet and see our investments in the next generation of public-safety communications become reality,” said First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) CEO Edward Parkinson. “The FirstNet Authority has spent years working hand-in-hand with public safety across America to plan for, launch and innovate their network. They’ve told us about the need for a dedicated network that would continue to evolve as technology advanced. While there is more work to be done to advance mission-critical 5G capabilities for first responders, the FirstNet Authority is thrilled to deliver lifesaving capabilities to first responders with access to this new technology.”

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