FirstNet has seen tremendous momentum. So far, more than half of America’s governors have decided to opt in to the FirstNet network. And I’m proud to say the Florida FirstNet Executive Committee has recommended the same decision for our state.
With Hurricane Irma recovery still underway, Florida knows the effects of disasters all too well. And while our first responders are often the first to the scene, they aren’t always the first to get the network connection or information they need.
The FirstNet network – the country’s only communications platform purpose-built with public safety, for public safety – is working to change that. With FirstNet, first responder subscribers will have access to a nationwide, interoperable and high-speed public safety broadband network dedicated to their needs.
FirstNet will also, for the first time, give first responders priority and preemption to voice and data.
Priority means just that. In times of network congestion, the FirstNet network will prioritize first responder communications. Preemption for primary users like fire, police and EMS personnel, is expected by year end. So when emergencies happen, they won’t have to compete with civilians for the connectivity they need.
Priority was trialed during Irma. We equipped more than 15,000 public safety personnel who use AT&T mobility services with priority communications to help them respond to the storm.
FirstNet will also drive public safety-focused innovation. It will help advance communications tools – like smartphones, apps and connected devices – to be more useful, valuable and available to first responders.
The Florida FirstNet Executive Committee includes leaders in the Florida Army National Guard, the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Florida Sheriffs’ Association and the Florida Police Chiefs’ Association. The Committee is also made up of leaders from across state government.
Having the support of firefighters, police, sheriffs and the National Guard is especially critical because they directly represent FirstNet users.
We look forward to collaborating with state leaders and first responders to help ensure the network that’s built in Florida meets public safety’s needs. And we will continue to provide decision-makers in Florida all the information they need as they choose whether to opt in to FirstNet by the end of the year.
Seconds can mean the difference between life and death, and that’s why we’re excited to see this recommendation from the Committee. It moves first responders in Florida one step closer to accessing the life-saving tools they need to improve safety for themselves and the Floridians they serve.
Joe York - president, AT&T Florida