As we planned for the FirstNet network, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) worked together with the public safety community to understand their critical communications needs. To make use of mobile broadband for daily operations and emergencies, first responders told us they needed the network to be available when and where they needed it most.
The FirstNet Authority incorporated this important feedback on coverage into our Request for Proposals for the network. We ensured that terrestrial cell sites would be deployed where public safety needed them most according to each State’s plan. We also enabled innovative solutions for coverage by incorporating public safety deployables or portable cell sites into the FirstNet offering.
Following the launch of FirstNet in 2018, the demand for FirstNet’s dedicated fleet of deployables increased rapidly. In just the first six months of 2021, public safety entities requested FirstNet deployable assets more than 200 times. Today, we are pleased to join AT&T in announcing the growth of public safety’s dedicated fleet of deployables. With investment funding approved by the FirstNet Authority Board, we have supported the addition of 15 new assets to the dedicated fleet, including more SatCOLTS (cell on light trucks) and new form factors like the Communications Vehicle and Compact Rapid Deployable.
In total, the FirstNet fleet of deployables now consists of more than 100 assets available to FirstNet subscribers by request. We are pleased that AT&T continues to go above and beyond to offer more innovations to public safety such as the FirstNet Flying COWs (cell on wings) and FirstNet One – an aerostat or blimp for use in the aftermath of major disasters. This is another example of the benefits of the FirstNet public private partnership in delivering value for public safety.
We continue to see firsthand how these dedicated deployables provide life-saving connections across the country, with FirstNet subscribers having access to them at no cost. These portable cell sites provide on-demand coverage that helps to close the digital divide for responders and their communities when they need connectivity the most. From supporting response to natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes to the response to COVID-19, the FirstNet fleet has become a game changer for public safety operations nationwide, particularly for agencies serving tribal and rural communities.
The FirstNet Authority Board has committed more than $200 million in network investments for expanding the deployable fleet and for making initial upgrades to the FirstNet core for 5G. These two investments are the result of public safety’s continued input through our Roadmap engagements. The feedback we gather from these engagements is important to understanding current and future critical communications needs and ensures that public safety continues to be at the center of our investment process.
Public safety can schedule a Roadmap engagement by reaching out to a Senior Public Safety Advisor. We look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with public safety and AT&T to advance FirstNet to meet the needs of America’s first responders.
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 Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for the latest FirstNet Authority updates.
For information on FirstNet products and services or to access your subscriber account, visit FirstNet.com.