FirstNet brings first responders innovative mission-ready communications tools

January 26, 2021

by AT&T

FirstNet® MegaRange™, Z-Axis, Compact Rapid Deployables, and LMR Interoperability for Push-To-Talk solutions launch to help public safety on their lifesaving missions 

First responders now have access to 4 new mission-driven solutions exclusively available to all FirstNet subscribers: FirstNet® MegaRange™, Z-Axis, Compact Rapid Deployables™ and Land-Mobile-Radio (LMR) interoperability for FirstNet Push-to-Talk (PTT).

FirstNet MegaRange™

Following 3GPP and FCC standards, FirstNet is the only network where public safety can take advantage of the highest power class signaling available in the U.S. with FirstNet MegaRange™, the high-power user equipment (HPUE) solution exclusively available on Band 14. For rural, remote and maritime first responders, MegaRange™ can significantly improve connectivity especially at the edge of network coverage. And for urban and suburban responders, it can help solve the common challenge of difficult coverage spots. The stronger signal may better assist those connecting from hard-to-reach places like building shadows, parking garages, basements, elevators, and stairwells, helping first responders communicate inside and out. Learn everything you need to  now about FirstNet MegaRange™ here.

Z-Axis for FirstNet

Imagine looking at a map and being able to know what street corner you’re standing on, as well as how high up in the building you are. And then, being able to know where and how high up in the building all your team members are. That’s the vision behind our Z-Axis capability. Think of it as the “vertical axis” view added to current two-dimension situational awareness applications. It’s now available in more than 105 markets across the country, including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. And with additional markets added weekly, public safety has a new level of indoor spatial awareness not previously available using traditional GPS-based location methods. Intrepid Networks’ Response for FirstNet, a situational awareness platform, is the first to bring our Z-Axis capability to market. Check out how this will help communities nationwide here.

Compact Rapid Deployable™ (CRD)

Public safety agencies can also now purchase their own deployable network assets. These agency-owned Cells on Wheels (COWs) can be deployed by a single person within a matter of minutes. CRDs link to FirstNet via satellite and do not rely on commercial power availability, making them ideal for use during emergencies in rural and remote areas, as well as areas where communications may be temporarily unavailable. Think search and rescue missions or after a major hurricane. And with on-the-go coverage, public safety will have dedicated Band 14 connectivity wherever it’s needed. 

LMR Interoperability for FirstNet Push-To-Talk

The first-ever nationwide mission-critical, standards-based PTT solution to launch in the U.S. now supports LMR-to-LTE interoperability. This means first responders using LMR can virtually seamlessly communicate with users on FirstNet PTT and vice versa.  With LMR interoperability, FirstNet PTT can complement your agency communications – such as including support staff who regularly use smartphones and allowing team members who travel outside the LMR footprint to remain connected. Plus, 11 FirstNet Ready™ devices are now approved for FirstNet PTT. Dive deeper into how this helps first responders work better together in our latest blog.

Why is this important?

Information is everything in an emergency. Before FirstNet, it was often hard for public safety officials to communicate and work together to save lives due to network congestion and interoperability issues. Now, public safety has FirstNet – and it is not a commercial network.

“First responders are the heart of FirstNet, and it is their input that is shaping the new tools and technologies on their network, today and for decades to come,” said Jason Porter, Senior Vice President, FirstNet Program at AT&T. “These innovative mission-driven solutions are equipping first responders with better situational awareness – whether conducting a search and rescue mission in a remote area or on the upper floors of a burning building – all while helping to ensure a seamless, interoperable connection. These are just a few of the ways that FirstNet, public safety’s network, stands above commercial offerings.” 

FirstNet is specifically designed with and for public safety, based on what they asked for to advance their communications. As public safety’s network, FirstNet is evolving based on the needs of and feedback from first responders. These solutions demonstrate FirstNet’s continued commitment to drive purposeful innovation to best support public safety and help them stay mission-ready, equipping first responders with the capabilities, coverage and capacity they need to protect themselves and our communities.

"It is exciting to see the FirstNet marketplace continue to flourish and meet the unique needs of public safety,” said Ed Parkinson, CEO of the FirstNet Authority. “These new mission-ready features are delivering lifesaving capabilities into the hands of first responders. The FirstNet Authority will continue to work with our public safety community to innovate and advance their network."

What is FirstNet?

FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. It’s the most important wireless network in the country because it’s serving our first responders. Shaped by the vision of the first responder community and Congress following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings.

FirstNet is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network is providing public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption for first responders, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities help fire, EMS, and law enforcement save lives and protect their communities.

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