AT&T announced on Thursday three significant milestones for FirstNet that will support and meet first responder needs. They are a first responder-centric approach to 5G use, comprehensive tower-to-core network encryption and the FirstNet Health and Wellness Coalition to better support responders holistically.
FirstNet is the only nationwide communications platform designed to meet the needs of first responders. FirstNet is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), an independent federal government agency. It helps first responders perform their duties by providing them with benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum.
"5G for FirstNet is not your typical 5G. Now, there's no doubt that 5G has a lot to offer the entire public safety community, but what's most 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. That's what we committed to 4 years ago when we became public safety's communications partner, and it's what we will continue to do for decades to come,” commented Jason Porter, AT&T president of Public Sector and FirstNet.
The first responder-centric 5G milestone is an updated FirstNet network core that will provide reliable 5G connectivity to first responders with the most optimal experience. The 5G will bring benefits such as ultra-low latency and ultra-high speeds to support various users.
The comprehensive tower-to-core network encryption addition to FirstNet will provide cybersecurity far superior to typical commercial networks. FirstNet will be the first network with complete data encryption across an entire communications pathway. Meaning FirstNet traffic will immediately be secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again.
The final new milestone for FirstNet is the Health & Wellness Coalition. The Coalition's goal is to integrate first responders, community, industry and academic resources to support first responders’ health and mission readiness. The Coalition has more than 20 members, including organizations like the International Association of Fire Chiefs and National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Edward Parkinson, CEO of FirstNet Authority, added that "We are excited to bring 5G to FirstNet and see our investments in the next generation of public safety communications become reality. The FirstNet Authority has spent years working hand-in-hand with public safety across America to plan for, launch and innovate their network … the FirstNet Authority is thrilled to deliver lifesaving capabilities to first responders with access to this new technology."