FirstNet Adds Vertical Axis, Other Improvements


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AT&T is offering first responders vertical access location data, called Z-Axis, on the FirstNet broadband public safety network. That’s four months earlier than the FCC’s April deadline. Three other new features on the network include FirstNet® MegaRange™, FirstNet Compact Rapid Deployables™ and Land-Mobile-Radio (interoperability for FirstNet Push-to-Talk).

The vertical axis will tell first responders the floor level a 911 call is — saving critical time. Z-Axis also tells first responders how high up in the building all the team members are. The vertical axis view added to current two-dimension situational awareness applications is now available in more than 105 markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Additional markets are added weekly, according to AT&T. Intrepid Networks’ Response for FirstNet, a situational awareness platform, brings the Z-Axis capability to market.  

FirstNet MegaRange™ is the high-power user equipment (HPUE) solution available on Band 14. For rural, remote and maritime first responders, MegaRange™ can significantly improve connectivity especially at the edge of network coverage, according to AT&T. The stronger signal may better assist those connecting from hard-to-reach places like building shadows, parking garages, basements, elevators, and stairwells, helping first responders communicate inside and out.

With Compact Rapid Deployable (CRD) capability, public safety agencies can now purchase their own deployable network assets. These agency-owned Cells on Wheels can be deployed by a single person within minutes. CRDs link to FirstNet via satellite and do not rely on commercial power availability, making them ideal for use during emergencies in rural and remote areas, as well as areas where communications may be temporarily unavailable, emphasizes AT&T.

FirstNet now supports Push-to-Talk (PTT) LMR-to-LTE interoperability. This means first responders using LMR can virtually seamlessly communicate with users on FirstNet PTT and vice versa. With LMR interoperability, FirstNet PTT can complement agency communications – such as including support staff who regularly use smartphones and allowing team members who travel outside the LMR footprint to remain connected.

“These innovative mission-driven solutions are equipping first responders with better situational awareness – whether conducting a search and rescue mission in a remote area or on the upper floors of a burning building – all while helping to ensure a seamless, interoperable connection,” said AT&T SVP FirstNet Jason Porter.

FirstNet Authority CEO Ed Parkinson added: “These new mission-ready features are delivering life saving capabilities into the hands of first responders. The FirstNet Authority will continue to work with our public safety community to innovate and advance their network.”

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