FirstNet: Making the Big Plays for Every Eventuality

By Jason Porter, Senior Vice President, FirstNet Program at AT&T

What a difference a year makes. It’s a little-known secret within the first responder community that Pro Football’s Big Game each year is actually a massive public safety event. But in a pandemic, does this still hold true? The short answer is yes.

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Raymond James Stadium in Tampa this Sunday will be about 30% full, with 7,500 first responders invited to attend as honored guests. And while that’s a big change from the typical packed stadium, pre-game concerts and 5G fan experiences of years past, what doesn’t change is public safety’s need to be prepared for every eventuality.

That’s why, as public safety’s network partner, we’ve spent over a year working hand-in-hand with local, state and federal public safety agencies to make this year’s game a success. And today, we’re at public safety’s side in Tampa to help ensure they have the communications they need leading up to and during the Big Game:

  • We’ve blanketed the Tampa area with Band 14 spectrum. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the federal government specifically for FirstNet. It gives public safety a dedicated lane of connectivity when needed. That’s unique in the industry and something public safety won’t get anywhere but on the FirstNet network.
  • Our FirstNet Response Operations Group – led by a team of former first responders – is onsite to address public safety’s immediate needs. They’re staffing the Tampa Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as well as the EOC inside the stadium on game day. This team is dedicated to working around the clock, 24x7x365, and their intimate understanding of the public safety mission is setting FirstNet apart.
  • In addition to 4 COWs (Cell on Wheels) to support fan and first responder communications, the FirstNet team has also stationed 2 dedicated FirstNet SatCOLTs (Satellite Cell on Light Trucks) on “hot-standby” for extra redundancy. That means, in the event of an emergency, these assets quickly provide dedicated FirstNet connectivity to first responders for their critical communications needs.
  • And, as always, the FirstNet network core – dedicated entirely to public safety, helping secure their sensitive communications – will be monitored around-the-clock by a dedicated Security Operations Center. This 24/7 oversight helps ensure communications availability for first responders in the face of the constantly changing cyber threat landscape. It’s just one of the ways FirstNet distinguishes itself from commercial networks.

Supporting first responders – both at the game and at home – is our mission. And we’re delivering an experience unlike any other. That’s why more than 15,000 public safety agencies1 and organizations have turned to America’s public safety network for their communications needs. It’s this type of unparalleled support that puts FirstNet a cut above the rest. Whether at the airport, in the stadium or patrolling downtown, public safety can be confident they’ll have the unthrottled connectivity and priority communications they need to get the job done. After all, no connection is more important than one that can save a life.