When Lives Are on the Lion


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Penn State University announced that the Nittany Lions are all on board with AT&T and FirstNet, reports GovTech.com. The already large population of students and faculty on the State College, PA campus swells even more during football games, making it even more important for emergency personnel to communicate with one another and reach those in need. 

In addition to first responders, Penn State University Police and Public Safety (UPPS) has said that it will connect all its officers and key personnel to FirstNet. The university campuses at Abington, Altoona, Behrend, Berks, Greater Allegheny, Harrisburg and University Park are already FirstNet participants and other campuses will continue to connect as well. 

“The biggest challenge was phone communications during home football games. With more than 100,000 fans that gather at University Park during a typical football Saturday, traditional cellular coverage is overtaxed,” said Paul Edwards, IT Lead for Penn State UPPS. “Since the FirstNet devices connect to a dedicated network, all of our FirstNet devices have high-speed and reliable connectivity during such large-scale events, which means emergency communication is uninterrupted.”  

“It feels like a normal cellular deployment,” said Doug Clark, FirstNet Assistant Vice President. “However, when there is a critical communications need, the network provides for high availability. Unlike commercial offerings in the marketplace, FirstNet is built to operate without dialing any special numbers or requiring IT staff to implement a special configuration.”

In a statement for GovTech, Clark further noted that, “Giving public safety a dedicated platform to communicate is important. It’s like giving public safety communications the ‘lights and sirens’ treatment. When you see or hear an emergency vehicle coming, you get out of the way, so they can quickly get to those in need. Priority and preemption follow that same approach, just on the communications highway.”

Edwards added that the cost and ease of joining AT&T FirstNet network was an appealing point. He spoke positively about the transition from traditional service to the FirstNet program and praised the clear communication offered by the dedicated Band 14 spectrum.

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