MOBILITY

AT&T adding 5G to FirstNet public safety network

AT&T is incorporating 5G connectivity and tower-to-core encryption into the FirstNet public safety communications network to gain more capability for delivering low latency and enabling new applications.

With these updates, AT&T said Thursday that FirstNet will have greater ability to support use cases such as transmitting patient data from an ambulance to a hospital and quickly send other large files that require high bandwidth.

Other use cases mentioned in the company’s announcement include Internet of Things and video intelligence solutions, such as cameras surrounding a large event venue or systems to screen the temperatures of attendees.

First responders in 38 cities and more than 20 venues will have access to AT&T’s millimeter wave service that further enables 5G in April. Full 5G capabilities will be rolled out across the network over time.

“There's no doubt that 5G has a lot to offer the entire public safety community, but what's most important is ensuring that as new technologies become available -- whether it's 5G, augmented reality, edge computing or others -- that we take a first responder-centric view in how we approach its deployment,” said Jason Porter, AT&T president of public sector and FirstNet.

“The FirstNet Authority has spent years working hand-in-hand with public safety across America to plan for, launch and innovate their network. They've told us about the need for a dedicated network that would continue to evolve as technology advanced,” added Edward Parkinson, CEO of the FirstNet Authority.

FirstNet’s encryption will be based on open industry standards and protect traffic from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again.

Houston and Cleveland are the first two cities that will get those security upgrades with nationwide completion eyed by the first quarter of 2022.

AT&T and the FirstNet Authority have also established a new health and wellness coalition in partnership with several organizations representing first responders. The idea is for responder, community, industry and academic organizations to collaborate and support the well-being of public safety workers.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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