FirstNet expands 5G and in-building connectivity for first responders

August 31, 2022

by AT&T

Tennessee increases 9-1-1 resiliency with FirstNet as wireless backup for AT&T ESInet™

FirstNet® builder AT&T* is expanding 5G on FirstNet in more than 40 cities across the country,  boosting dedicated in-building connectivity and enhancing 9-1-1 resiliency across Tennessee with FirstNet as a wireless backup.

Now, public safety in more than 40 cities – including Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, Seattle and St. Louis – can access AT&T mid-band 5G+ spectrum and benefit from its ultra-fast connectivity to meet their needs. That means first responders on FirstNet in about 100 markets across the country have access to at least 1 of the 3 flavors of 5G (using low-, mid- and high-band spectrum). 

“By delivering 5G on FirstNet in this unique way, public safety is getting a head start on the future of connectivity, without compromising on the reliability they require for their critical communications,” said Jason Porter, President, Public Sector and FirstNet Program at AT&T. “And with first responder agencies now able to put their network in buildings where they need it most, we’re equipping first responders with a network that’s second-to-none today and for decades to come.”

Boosting in-building connectivity

Following the network investment from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), qualified first responder agencies on FirstNet can now get Cell Booster Pros for use in areas where they’ve previously experienced connectivity challenges. And all at no additional cost to them. It’s just one more way our unprecedented public-private partnership is strengthening public safety’s command and control of their network.

The Cell Booster Pro is an enterprise-grade mini cell site that provides reliable connectivity for public safety on FirstNet. The Cell Booster Pro transmits public safety’s high-quality Band 14 spectrum and AT&T commercial LTE. With thousands of these mini cell sites available, agencies can mesh 3 of these to increase coverage within a building by up to 45,000 square feet, supporting nearly 200 users. First responder agencies across the country can get these devices – all at no additional cost to them.

“The FirstNet Authority’s investments in the network are guided by the needs of public safety,” said Lisa Casias, Acting CEO at the FirstNet Authority. “This unique process is a testament to FirstNet truly being built for and by public safety. We are pleased to work alongside public safety to bring them the tools needed to keep our communities safe.”

Enhancing 9-1-1 resiliency across Tennessee:

We’ve also integrated AT&T ESInet with the FirstNet network to extend network connectivity to 9-1-1 centers and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that are hard to reach or experiencing an outage. And Tennessee is leading the country in deploying this innovative solution at every PSAP across the state. This further protects the nearly 7 million people who call the Volunteer State home. 

Interoperability with FirstNet enables redundancy, resiliency and agility with AT&T ESInet so PSAPs can focus on keeping their communities safe. If AT&T ESInet detects a disruption to the primary connection of a 9-1-1 call center, it will automatically route 9-1-1 calls over the FirstNet network to a remote PSAP. This integration helps PSAPs maintain operations and creates a path for future Next Generation 9-1-1 technologies, including video and images. These technologies help PSAPs coordinate with first responders more efficiently, improve situational awareness and reduce response times.

“We understand that we play a vital role in providing a link to members of our community and first responders,” said Curtis Sutton, Executive Director, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. “We took key lessons learned following the emergency events in December 2020 and worked with AT&T and other agencies to design a solution to increase our reliability and resiliency. In addition to creating redundancies through traditional connections with AT&T ESInet, we are implementing a wireless connection with FirstNet, which gives us an even more robust dependability than we could have imagined.”

Why is this important?

AT&T is the only carrier that can provide end-to-end emergency communication solutions. And as public safety’s partner, it’s about where first responders need connectivity. Emergencies are unpredictable. And during these critical moments, the public safety community needs reliable, interoperable communications.

Today, more than 21,800 agencies and organizations – accounting for 3.7 million connections1 – use FirstNet to stay mission-ready. FirstNet continues to grow because public safety recognizes commercial networks aren’t designed to properly handle the specific and niche demands of first responders. And they are not subject to the rigorous oversight from and accountability to the federal government. That’s why public safety has FirstNet.

Check out to learn more about America’s public safety network. And click here for more FirstNet news. 

1 As of Q2 2022