The hands of a first responder using a smartphone at a table.

In-building solution boosts FirstNet inside police headquarters at no extra cost

The FirstNet Authority’s most recent investment brings better indoor FirstNet coverage to small and mid-sized sheriff and police headquarters. With this new program, agencies can install up to 50 devices across multiple locations—at no cost to the agency—to boost FirstNet inside the buildings where they work if there’s insufficient coverage.  

Details of the in-building solution

The Cell Booster Pro is a device that acts as a miniature cell tower to improve the quality of your agency’s indoor FirstNet service. The strength and range of your FirstNet signal inside the station may be affected by the building structure, layout, or geography. If you have indoor FirstNet coverage that’s two bars or less, a Cell Booster Pro device can boost coverage up to five bars.

The device uses state-of-the-art small cell technology to provide Radio Access Network, or RAN, extension services. RAN is the network infrastructure commonly used to wirelessly connect devices to the network.

The Cell Booster Pro provides up to 15,000 square feet of coverage. A maximum of three devices can be deployed in a single location, so the solution can provide in-building coverage to a facility as large as 45,000 square feet.

The devices can also be moved and used in the field at staging locations, emergency operation centers, or anywhere with a broadband connection.

FirstNet versus Wi-Fi indoors

You may wonder why you need FirstNet if you have Wi-Fi coverage in your building. Using FirstNet indoors gives your law enforcement agency the same public safety-focused benefits of the network, whereas Wi-Fi does not.

FirstNet’s benefits include access to Band 14, the high-quality spectrum licensed to the FirstNet Authority for first responder communications. FirstNet provides security, priority and preemption, and mission-critical services designed for public safety operations. 

Meeting law enforcement’s needs

The FirstNet Authority conducted robust engagement and market research with the public safety community―including in-depth sessions with law enforcement―on the need for this solution.

In-building coverage routinely tops the list of law enforcement’s desired improvements for FirstNet. Law enforcement told us that FirstNet worked well in the field, but when they returned to the station, they had challenges getting coverage in some instances.

The FirstNet Authority is focused on making sure FirstNet provides public safety with the connectivity needed for their mission. With this investment, we are enhancing indoor coverage, providing an additional layer of network resiliency, and giving public safety the ability to deploy coverage where and when it’s needed most.

The FirstNet Authority Board approved this investment in May, and by September, AT&T began rolling it out to eligible subscribing agencies.

How to leverage the in-building program

If the in-building program would be useful for your agency, here are some tips to prepare for the installation and resources to help after the installation. 

Before installation:

  • Confirm that your agency is a FirstNet subscriber and a primary user (law enforcement agencies are primary FirstNet users).    
  • Work with AT&T to identify where in-building coverage is needed and verify the location is where public-safety users typically reside during working hours.
  • Work with AT&T to determine how many devices your agency needs—up to 50 may be provided at no cost. Additional devices can be purchased.

 During and after installation:

  • Be sure to select “FirstNet” to enable Band 14 when setting up the device.
  • Once installed, manage devices and in-building coverage via the mobile app and web portal.
  • Provide feedback to the FirstNet Authority about your experience with the in-building program to help us determine the future of the program.
  • Direct questions about the device or coverage to your local FirstNet-AT&T account manager or learn more at www.FirstNet.com/CellBoosterPro.

To learn more about how FirstNet is helping public safety and the law enforcement community to leverage innovative public safety communications, sign up for the law enforcement newsletter.   

Learn more about how FirstNet is transforming public safety communications — contact your local FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor and sign up for our discipline newsletters. Follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn for the latest FirstNet Authority updates.

For information on FirstNet products and services or to access your subscriber account, visit FirstNet.com.     

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