When a crisis hits, we all know what to do: Call 9-1-1. That’s why 9-1-1 call centers need to be dependable and prepared for circumstances that might interrupt their data connections. For the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, that means ensuring the state’s 118 primary public safety answering points (PSAPs) or 9-1-1 call centers have backups in place in the event their primary fiber connections are disrupted for any reason.

It’s why this year, Tennessee has embarked upon a plan to fully back up every one of its 9-1-1 call centers with AT&T ESInet™ and FirstNet® – America’s public safety network – to increase their reliability and resiliency. This is a major step forward for public safety as Tennessee leads the way to become the first state in the nation to implement full wireless backup through FirstNet, Built with AT&T to all 9-1-1 call centers statewide. Wireless backup means that even during the toughest strains and worst-case scenarios, network connectivity will be available so that every Tennessean can know that 9-1-1 telecommunicators will answer their call. 

How does it work? If AT&T ESInet detects a disruption to the primary 9-1-1 call center connections, it will automatically re-route 9-1-1 calls over the FirstNet network, ensuring they are answered.

Knox County, Tennessee became the first in the state to activate its FirstNet backup in November. We worked very closely with the Knox County Emergency Communications District to help ensure the transition was a seamless experience and the additional connections are working reliably.

“Beginning with the first steps of project management all the way through implementation, the AT&T team worked well with our internal team to upgrade our connections,” said Brad Anders, director, Knox County Emergency Communications District. “We were engaged at every level of the process and the transition was very smooth. Since implementation, we have not had any issues with the upgraded connections.”

For Tennessee 9-1-1 call centers, migrating to AT&T ESInet means greater capacity to support elevated call volumes, increased interoperability among agencies, advanced reporting solutions to help increase operational effectiveness, and more reliability than ever.

This is a crucial milestone for public safety in Tennessee and it’s also only the beginning. As new technology emerges, we plan to continue to work together to continue to evolve 9-1-1 call centers in Tennessee, so they’re equipped with advanced technology to keep communities safe.

Plans are in place to have every Tennessee PSAP operating with FirstNet as its AT&T ESInet wireless backup by June of 2023, ensuring that every Tennessean can rely on this level of security and dependability should they ever need to pick up the phone to call 9-1-1.

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Jim Bugel
Jim Bugel President of the FirstNet Program, AT&T
 Curtis Sutton
Curtis Sutton Executive Director, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board

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