AT&T has begun evolving FirstNet to meet first responders’ needs for high-speed, low-latency 5G wireless communications. The carrier has upgraded the dedicated FirstNet network core to enable reliable 5G connectivity.
“Access to 5G is a major development for FirstNet, yet we are only scratching the surface of future innovations for first responders,” said Edward Parkinson, CEO, First Responder Network Authority. “While there is more work to be done to advance mission critical 5G capabilities for first responders, the FirstNet Authority is thrilled to deliver additional capabilities to first responders with initial access to this new technology.”
First responders in Houston have been taking part in a 5G trial, and, now, parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues will gain access to AT&T mmWave (5G+) spectrum this April, while also maintaining LTE access to Band 14 spectrum, plus all of AT&T’s commercial LTE spectrum bands.
“This is the start of a multi-phase, multi-year journey to deliver full 5G capabilities on FirstNet for public safety,” an AT&T spokesman said. “More markets and availability of 5G for FirstNet will be added as AT&T continues to deploy more 5G spectrum across the country.”
The evolution to 5G will bring comprehensive tower-to-core network encryption to first responder communications. Houston and Cleveland are the first two cities to receive enhanced encryption, with nationwide completion expected by Q1 2022.
“FirstNet traffic will be automatically secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again,” the FirstNet spokesman said. “To achieve this, we’re rolling out security upgrades on every cell tower across the country.”