AT&T increased the Long Term Evolution (LTE) coverage area for the AT&T network and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) public-safety communications platform by more than 50,000 square miles nationwide, covering an additional 1 million individuals, during 2018. The carrier also deployed band 14 spectrum in more than 500 markets.
The company said it has more than 5,250 public-safety agencies using more than 425,000 connections on FirstNet, a more than a 60 percent increase in the number of connections since October when AT&T said it had more than 250,000 from 3,600 public-safety agencies.
Were moving fast to bring the unique features and benefits of FirstNet to life, said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, FirstNet at AT&T. Were less than a year into the band 14 build and months ahead of schedule. And we already cover more than 40 percent of our total FirstNet band 14 rural and non-rural coverage targets. Thats about a 10 percent jump in the FirstNet square miles covered since last October.
Witnessing the real, tangible and at times life-saving impacts that FirstNet had in 2018 fuels us to keep moving quickly to blanket the country with reliable connectivity. And were set for the explosive growth ahead.
AT&T said it has three focus areas for building out the FirstNet communications platform. The first is connecting rural and remote responders, noting its buildout in the Black Hills of South Dakota where nearly half a million people gather for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally; the farming communities of Tulare County, California; and tribal lands within the Chickasaw Nation in south-central Oklahoma.
Another focus is increasing capacity for urban responders, and AT&T said it added band 14 in Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco. An AT&T statement said that when not in use by FirstNet subscribers, AT&T customers can enjoy band 14s added coverage and capacity.
Keeping public safety connected with innovative solutions is the third focus. The carrier cited its nationwide fleet of 72 FirstNet dedicated deployables and said FirstNet subscribers can purchase their own deployable network assets from the First Responders Mobility Zone program. A Rapid Deployment Kit is a portable briefcase that allows first responders to quickly establish connectivity where they need it.
FirstNet is advancing quickly both in terms of progress and adoption, said FirstNet Authority Acting CEO Edward Parkinson. Its an incredible testament to the need first responders have for a dedicated, purpose-built network, as well as the unparalleled capabilities FirstNet has already delivered. We are looking forward to the further expansion of FirstNet in the year ahead and will continue to work closely with first responders and AT&T to ensure FirstNet is being built to their specifications coverage and capacity included. With the band 14 buildout validated thus far, were pleased that more first responders in rural and urban areas have even more access to the connectivity and modern communications tools they need.
By the end of 2019, AT&T expects network capacity to increase by 50 percent compared with the end of 2017 while laying the foundation for 5G technology.
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