Alamo area sees significant benefits of FirstNet

by Leslie Ward, President, AT&T Texas

As early adopters of FirstNet, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County have seen firsthand the benefits of this specialized communications platform. FirstNet, the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built specifically for America’s first responders, is equipping first responders and other public safety personnel with the unthrottled access they need. No matter the emergency. This includes firefighters, law enforcement, paramedics, 911 telecommunicators, emergency managers.

FirstNet, Built with AT&T, is bringing the San Antonio public safety community a level of connectivity and advanced capability that’s helping to enhance the role communication plays in their response. And knowing San Antonio’s first responders have access to the leading tools to help them do their jobs is something we can all feel good about.

FirstNet impact in the Alamo area

Since FirstNet launched 2 years ago, it’s given first responders in all 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia access to the communications platform built specifically for them and the extended public safety community. In San Antonio, it’s brought significant benefits to public safety and the community. For example:

Day-to-day operations:

  • Firefighters use commercial grade modems with Wi-Fi capability for command vehicles and fire engines.
  • Police officers are using smartphones and in-vehicle laptops for day-to-day operations and emergency response.

COVID-19 response:

  • In February, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requested FirstNet network support for a quarantine center at Lackland Air Force Base. While there was quality coverage outside of the quarantine center, service was minimal within the quarantine zone. The FirstNet team at AT&T quickly deployed a new in-building emergency solution to support dozens of first responders.
  • FirstNet teams supported the Cohort Facility, or the HCA Methodist temporary hospital, and mobile testing sites throughout the city, helping to ensure FirstNet connectivity and service was optimal for first responders and emergency response personnel.

Emergency response:

  • Bexar County is using AT&T Next Generation 9-1-1, giving public safety improved communications capabilities. Complemented with FirstNet, this gives first responders a robust broadband mobility solution that connects them in a highly secure manner to other first responders and to 9-1-1 Call Centers.

Large-scale events:

  • When San Antonio public safety agencies, including the Southwest Texas Fusion Center, managed a large, multi-day sports event, they relied on FirstNet to provide the bandwidth needed to create a common operating picture for hundreds of first responders.
  • With the event drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors to San Antonio first responders on FirstNet found the platform to be just what they needed to access and share the critical information they needed in a timely manner. Watch their story.

“It is extremely reassuring that FirstNet provides our first responders a reliable and highly secure network, not only for day-to-day operations, but, also that the FirstNet team can provide additional, event-specific solutions as unique situations arise, like for makeshift hospitals or quarantine centers,” said Aric Jimenez, Special Projects Manager, Southwest Texas Fusion Center. 

Prepared for the next emergency

With FirstNet, public safety’s mission is the priority. When public safety agencies on FirstNet respond to an incident – whether it be a hurricane, wildfire or tornado or man-made disaster – we’re there by their side. We’re helping coordinate public safety’s needs. And we’re working to deliver for the men and women our communities count on most.

In addition to San Antonio agencies, surrounding area public safety agencies, such as City of CiboloCity of BoerneKendall County, and Universal City, are also subscribed to FirstNet and experiencing the benefits for their first responders and the community.

Public safety agencies on FirstNet also have access to a FirstNet fleet of dedicated deployable network assets. These portable cell sites are designed to keep FirstNet subscribers connected to the information they need, no matter where their mission takes them. This allows first responders to communicate and coordinate their emergency response, or aid in recovery, even in the hardest hit areas or most remote parts of the country.

And they’re available to public safety agencies on FirstNet at no additional charge for planned and emergency events. FirstNet Response Operations at AT&T – led by former first responders – guides the deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets based on the needs of public safety.

In the midst of hurricane season, city officials and public safety recently conducted simulations with the city’s emergency operations center that included a mix of hurricane and pandemic scenarios.

First responders across the country have relied on FirstNet assets for reliable communications during the COVID-19 pandemic. This exemplifies the need and importance of having a network purpose-built for public safety. As America’s first responders traverse the country and its territories, they know they can turn to their network for the connectivity they need.

“The San Antonio Fire Department is committed to protecting our community from all hazards,” said Charles Hood, San Antonio Fire Chief. “The men and women of our department can count on FirstNet to deliver a network that is designed to provide optimal levels of operational capability at all times and wherever they need it. Our community can also rest well knowing the FirstNet fleet of deployable assets can provide us critical supplementary resources enabling us to be prepared for any kind of scenario.”

FirstNet is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority – an independent government authority. As public safety’s communications network partner, we have a responsibility unlike any other network provider. We’re helping deliver on the vision of the first responder community, with dedicated, advanced services built to mission-critical standards. It’s clear FirstNet stands above commercial offerings, and more than 13,000 subscribing public safety agencies and organizations – accounting for over 1.5 million connections – would agree. Leslie Ward is President, AT&T Texas. She works closely with community and business leaders, elected officials and others at AT&T to continue bringing the most advanced communications and entertainment technologies and services to Texas communities.

Leslie Ward is President, AT&T Texas. She works closely with community and business leaders, elected officials and others at AT&T to continue bringing the most advanced communications and entertainment technologies and services to Texas communities.