- AT&T announced that FirstNet, the nationwide public safety communications platform, now has more than 1,000 subscriptions from U.S. agencies, including police and fire departments, and has helped responses to 100,000 incidents since May.
- The platform is now used by 11 state patrol agencies, tribal public safety agencies, volunteer firefighters and responders, federal agencies and school districts, AT&T officials said.
- "First responders across the country are saying 'yes' to their network," Chris Sambar, AT&T-FirstNet senior vice president, said in a statement.
In touting the early impact of FirstNet, AT&T officials pointed to examples of where it has already been used as intended to make it easier for public safety agencies to communicate with each other.
Washington County, MD Sheriff Doug Mullendore said the local sheriff’s office used FirstNet to coordinate the response to major flooding in the area. "We even called in a Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT), boosting our ability to communicate and coordinate our emergency response beyond the low bandwidth Wi-Fi some of our personnel were using," Mullendore said in a statement.
Before being rolled out, FirstNet had been touted as a "game-changer" that would enhance competition between carriers, although it remains to be seen how interoperable it will be with Verizon’s rival service, especially as the networks are designed to make emergency responses smoother, regardless of network preference. With all 50 states plus Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. having opted in, AT&T will be hoping to be the preeminent power in this area.
StateScoop notes FirstNet has been in discussion since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but has struggled with all manner of issues in the six years it has been in existence as a federal body. But in a statement, FirstNet Authority CEO Mike Poth said this milestone is just the first step towards a bright future. "We are pleased to see first responders taking advantage of the early benefits of their network," he said in a statement. "Public safety's input is essential to ensuring the deployment and future evolution of FirstNet meets their rigorous demands."