And this isn’t just a nice to have – it’s a must have. While many organizations equip their public safety personnel with devices like FirstNet Ready® smartphones, this isn’t the case for all – especially in more rural regions of the country and among certain public safety disciplines where a majority of first responders are volunteer (think firefighters and EMTs). If FirstNet was limited to only agencies, 2 out of every 3 firefighters in our country would lack access to FirstNet and be at risk of their critical calls not going through due to things like commercial network congestion or throttling. The unique benefits FirstNet provides is critical during major events and disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, which often draw all types of departments to an incident and require constant communication with agencies statewide.
“Effective public safety communications benefit everyone, everywhere. And that means ensuring all first responders have access to FirstNet,” said Susan Bailey, President, NAEMT. “Thanks to ‘FirstNet and Family,’ EMTs are getting mission-critical communications with FirstNet without losing the benefit of a commercial network family plan. It’s helped me save time and money, while keeping my family connected to what matters most – it's truly giving paramedics everywhere the best of both worlds."
Providing all first responders and those critical to supporting emergency response with access to FirstNet was also a key requirement identified by the public safety community and the bipartisan legislation that created the FirstNet network. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order to renew the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet Authority) license of Band 14 spectrum – a major win for the first responder community. This action reaffirmed that the public safety users and their 5 million connections2 on FirstNet are consistent with the original legislative intent. Plus, it reinforced how the always-on priority of FirstNet with multiple priority levels effectively preserved dedicated access to the FirstNet network for first responders.
“By enabling first responders to have access to their own dedicated spectrum, FirstNet has greatly improved interoperability and freed public safety from the many constraints related to network congestion,” said Reid Vaughn, the NVFC’s representative to the FirstNet Authority’s Public Safety Advisory Committee. “‘FirstNet and Family’ has made FirstNet much more accessible to the volunteer fire service since many of FirstNet connections within the volunteer fire service are individual based. ‘FirstNet and Family’ has enabled many volunteers to take advantage of the benefits of FirstNet through their own personal connection while allowing them the option to retain the benefits of a family plan through AT&T’s civilian network.”
We understand there is no uniform, one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to public safety. From firefighters and paramedics to the extended public safety community that are critical to their emergency response, we’re proud to deliver this level of accessibility as part of our commitment with the FirstNet Authority to help public safety better protect and serve their communities.
“The National Narcotics Officers Associations’ Coalition represents about 65,000 officers nationwide. And when our members stressed the need for a streamlined experience for managing their family’s wireless needs in conjunction with their service on the FirstNet network, we were able to work directly with the FirstNet team at AT&T to address these concerns,” said Ron Brooks, Executive Director, NNOAC. “The care and engagement by the team reinforced that FirstNet is the best option for our officers, despite numerous offerings available to public safety, because it is truly built with first responders.”
AT&T was the only nationwide carrier that stepped up and bid to deliver this critical network for America’s first responders. Together, we’ve made public safety’s vision for their own network a reality. And the ongoing, direct feedback from public safety and local stakeholders has been instrumental in ensuring public safety’s network continues to meet their needs – from where to prioritize expanding the network to launching ‘FirstNet and Family.’ It’s just 1 of the reasons why more first responders choose FirstNet. And as public safety’s partner, we’ll continue to collaborate with the first responder community to ensure FirstNet meets their critical communication needs today and in the future.