FirstNet and 5G reliably connect first responders

Emergencies are unpredictable and during these critical times, the public safety community needs reliable and interoperable communications. That’s why our approach to 5G for public safety is unlike anything else. And that means it’s not the typical approach to 5G you’ve seen in TV commercials.

5G enabled FirstNet® – America’s Public Safety Network – is a first-of-its-kind experience that gives our nation’s first responders the first benefits of this next-generation connectivity while still using LTE, the current benchmark for reliable mobile broadband, for their mission-critical needs. First responders maintain voice communications with still active priority and preemption over LTE, while the FirstNet network determines the best route for data traffic, whether it’s 5G or LTE spectrum.

In April 2021, we upgraded the dedicated FirstNet core network to enable reliable 5G connectivity and opened up access to AT&T’s high-speed 5G+ spectrum. Later that year, we expanded access to AT&T’s low-band 5G. And now we’re giving this vital community access to the 5G sweet spot – AT&T mid-band 5G+. All public safety needs to access 5G on FirstNet is a FirstNet Ready® 5G device like the Samsung S21 Ultra 5G.

So what does 5G look like for first responders today? We offer 3 types of 5G on FirstNet using AT&T spectrum bands. Public safety in approximately 100 markets across the country has access to at least 1 of 3 flavors of 5G – and we continue to roll out additional 5G connectivity for FirstNet in more communities nationwide:

  • 5G+ broadband: Public safety agencies and organizations parts of more than 45 cities and more than 45 locations get blazing fast speeds and unprecedented performance in those high traffic areas. This includes places like Los Angeles International Airport and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa where crowds gather for amazing concerts or major sporting events like the Big Game (which really is a massive public safety event).
  • Mid-Band 5G+: Now this vital community has access to the “sweet spot” of 5G spectrum in more than 40 cities from coast to coast, including Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Seattle and St. Louis. The mid-band 5G+ spectrum bridges the gap between our other bands and offers an excellent combination of super-fast speeds and wide geographic coverage.
  • Low-band 5G: first responders in more … than 30 cities across the United States – including Austin, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona and Knoxville, Tennessee – can connect using low-band 5G spectrum. It can travel farther and penetrate through buildings and infrastructure better than high-speed 5G+.

Look forward: Many might ask, “why can’t 5G be deployed on FirstNet like commercial networks?” Simply put, when public safety responds and lives are at stake, reliability is key. And many standards that protect their crucial communications from network congestion have yet to be implemented for 5G by the industry.

So while we bring specialized features and capabilities to this community that they never had before, we also have our eyes on the future. This will not happen overnight. But we are actively working to develop the necessary standards and vendor support to create a 5G environment that aligns with the public safety mission.

Our strategy for 5G on FirstNet leverages the true evolution from 4G to 5G. FirstNet will continue to be a fast follower on 5G while driving innovation and integration in critical services tested and established on 4G for public safety operations today. This means first responders on FirstNet have confidence that 4G public safety services keep them reliably connected for their vital work, while initial 5G startup challenges are resolved on the business side. You know, the places where viral videos and live streaming of your favorite football team’s matches dominate the day – not a place where a call can make all the difference in helping save someone.

5G connectivity on FirstNet will be ideal for IoT and video intelligence solutions. Imagine being able to deploy cameras during parades and other celebrations to help identify suspicious bags or packages. Or use 5G in an ambulance to transmit patient data to the emergency room. These are just a few of the ways 5G on FirstNet could help public safety carry out its lifesaving missions in the future.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) and AT&T are committed to advancing FirstNet for all public safety – and doing it right. We recognize that uniting the unparalleled benefits of FirstNet with the future promise of 5G can open up a whole new world of public safety potential. And as a US provider of public safety wireless communications, we understand that the most important thing is to ensure that as new technologies become available – whether it’s 5G, reality augmented, edge computing or otherwise – we take a first responder-centric view in how we approach its deployment.

We’re not building 5G on FirstNet for the bottom line. We build it for the unique needs of the public safety mission. That means making smart decisions and being good stewards of the public safety network — all to make sure 5G is done right for public safety.

To help public safety everywhere access the power of FirstNet, individual verified first responders who are not already on FirstNet can register on line or at most 5,000 AT&T stores Across the country.

About Joan J. Hernandez

Check Also

Solving the Wind Power Connectivity Challenge: The Case of LTE and 5G Cellular

Peak flow The third advantage of the LTE and 5G standards is throughput. Maximum LTE …