Pennsylvania to Transform Communications for Public Safety; Governor Wolf Approves Buildout Plan for First Responder Network


November 2, 2017

News Media Contact:

Chrissie Coon (571) 599-0493

First-of-its-Kind Solution Will Create Jobs, Spur Investment and Modernize Public Safety Communications across Pennsylvania  

RESTON, Va., Nov. 2, 2017 – Pennsylvania is advancing communications capabilities for first responders. Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced his decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T* plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state's public safety community. FirstNet will bring advanced technologies that will help Pennsylvania's first responders save lives and protect communities.

"When an emergency strikes, Pennsylvania first responders are called upon to handle the situation and support the community," Governor Wolf said. "As we have learned from recent events in many parts of the country, a vital component needed for coordinating a response is the ability for all responders on the scene to share information as events unfold."

AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Pennsylvania's public safety community at no cost to the state. The FirstNet network will drive innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders.

Following an in-depth evaluation of the proposed AT&T and FirstNet plan, as well as proposals by other potential vendors, Pennsylvania selected the FirstNet and AT&T public-private partnership, bringing public safety the overall best value solution with the least risk. 

FirstNet will transform the way Pennsylvania's fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. Specifically, it will:

  • Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events.
  • Create an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state when responding to natural disasters that occur all year in Pennsylvania, such as severe winter storms, tornadoes, high winds and flooding.
  • Enhance and expand network coverage along Pennsylvania's vast areas of mountains, farmland and forests to cover areas that are today underserved. This will benefit first responders and residents throughout the state's rural areas.
  • Provide first responders with access to dedicated network assets that can be deployed for additional coverage and support when needed.
  • Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.

FirstNet and AT&T designed Pennsylvania's network solution with direct input from the state's public safety community. FirstNet has been meeting with Pennsylvania's officials and public safety personnel for several years to address their unique communication needs. These include:  

  • Improving coverage and making deployables readily available in less populated areas.
  • Providing modern communications tools at affordable costs to help first responders operate safer and more effectively.
  • Making Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solutions available to public safety volunteers.
  • Giving public safety agencies local control to adjust user prioritization at the state and incident commander level in response to outages and emergencies.

"Governor Wolf's decision will deliver innovation and interoperability to first responders in the Keystone State, helping them serve and protect their communities," said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "We are pleased to have delivered the network plan that best meets Pennsylvania's needs and look forward to connecting public safety throughout the Commonwealth."

The administration's decision to opt in will enable AT&T and FirstNet to begin planning and construction ahead of schedule. This will create a highly secure public safety network for Pennsylvania's first responder subscribers – who will also have priority use and preemption on this network.

Priority access to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network will be immediately available to subscribers. Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means fire, police, EMS and other public safety workers will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365, like their mission.

"Today is an historic day for public safety in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said J. Michael Schweder, President of AT&T Mid Atlantic.  "I'd like to thank Governor Wolf and his staff for the hard work they put into determining how best to deliver the FirstNet network to first responders and residents in our great state. We're honored to support the public safety mission here today, and every day for the next 25 years." 

For more information on FirstNet, please visit and For more about the value FirstNet will bring to public safety, please visit

About FirstNet
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at and follow FirstNet (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

*About AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) helps millions around the globe connect with leading entertainment, business, mobile and high speed internet services. We offer the nation's best data network** and the best global coverage of any U.S. wireless provider. We're one of the world's largest providers of pay TV. We have TV customers in the U.S. and 11 Latin American countries. Nearly 3.5 million companies, from small to large businesses around the globe, turn to AT&T for our highly secure smart solutions.

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