FirstNet Update Expands To Include Millions of (Rural) Connection

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Helping to close the rural digital divide, FirstNet announced that it added nearly 100,000 square miles of network coverage in 2020. FirstNet now covers more than 2.71 million square miles and supports over two million subscribed connections, according to the authority. As FirstNet’s public safety partner, AT&T has added more coverage and capabilities plus boosted capacity for first responders in rural, urban and tribal areas. 

Recent local agencies to sign onto FirstNet include the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in California and the City of Cambridge in Massachusetts. The LAPD will equip thousands of law enforcement officers and emergency personnel with FirstNet, and Cambridge will connect its police, fire, EMS, and other first responders to the network. 

FirstNet currently covers more than 99 percent of the U.S. population and serves over 15,000 agencies and organizations. It offers more than 210 FirstNet Ready™ devices and over 160 highly secure apps explicitly tested for public safety use. The authority is continuing to expand its network to serve all first responders nationwide, regardless of agency size, providing, “the reliable, unthrottled connectivity and modern communications tools they require.” 

AT&T is also working with public safety personnel and stakeholders to gain input on what’s needed. The telecom is increasing network resiliency for natural disasters through the FirstNet Response Operations and AT&T Network Disaster Recovery teams. Updates and upgrades include:

  • Deploying band 14 spectrum set aside especially for FirstNet. According to AT&T, it has surpassed 90 percent of the band 14 coverage target and ensures first responders in densely populated areas have protection against commercial traffic congestion.
  • Launching over 1,000 new sites to connect rural, remote, and tribal areas across every state. 
  • Collaborating with rural network providers to quickly address coverage needs for public safety. 
  • Expanding the FirstNet Fleet of portable network assets, giving first responders across all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia unthrottled access to more than 80 deployable network assets – available at no additional charge. 

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