FirstNet Unveils Emergency Drop Kit to “Hotshot Crews”

APCO Interview

AT&T has been deploying Band 14 public safety spectrum as part of its FirstNet build. Band 14 has been added to more than 2,500 tower sites, with an additional 10,000 sites to be added by year-end, Ryan Fields-Spack Director, Public Safety Strategies, FirstNet tells Inside Towers from the show floor of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials show in Las Vegas.

One of the items on display as a proof of concept is an Emergency Drop Kit, a collaboration of FirstNet, AT&T and Sonim. The kit is designed to be carried by first responders into disaster areas that trucks can’t immediately drive into, like where a “hotshot crew” is fighting wildfires, says Fields-Spack. Incident commanders will be able to drop in the kits for rapid connectivity to FirstNet. FirstNet is in booth 836 at this week’s APCO 2018 Conference & Expo, which runs through today.

The kits provide communications for a 300-foot wide area, enabling response teams to communicate and better coordinate their response. They’re meant as a short-term solution, until a deployable, such as an AT&T Cell on Wheels, can reach the area. “There is an antenna on the unit, so if there is cell coverage in the area” the unit can communicate with small cells or macro towers, he tells Inside Towers. The kits can communicate with satellites via GPS as well.

Currently the 25 pound kits fit into a case measuring 19 by 14 inches, with a depth of seven inches. Other form factors, like a backpack, are being considered, according to Fields-Spack.  

A typical Emergency Drop Kit will include:  

  • A Cradlepoint LTE router equipped with a FirstNet Ready™ MC400 modem and integrated WiFi to provide a secure and reliable data communications hub with intelligent failover to Inmarsat Government satellite service.
  • Four FirstNet Ready Sonim XP8 devices. These will come preloaded with FirstNet Certified and Reviewed apps – like Intrepid Response – to help improve public safety’s situational awareness. The Intrepid Response app can show each first responder’s live GPS location in the field, so command can “see” where they are and what’s happening around them.


August 8, 2018       

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