FirstNet fleet of dedicated deployable network assets expands to aid public safety’s emergency response

June 28, 2021

by AT&T

100+ portable assets – including new communications vehicles and micro SatCOLTs – support first responders during 2021 wildfire and hurricane seasons

Public safety’s dedicated fleet of deployable network assets is growing. Now, public safety has access to a dedicated fleet of more than 100 land-based and airborne portable cell sites, all at no additional charge.

“This is a strategic investment in public safety’s network,” said Edward Parkinson, CEO, FirstNet Authority. “The FirstNet Authority set this in motion last year by directing network investments to expand the FirstNet fleet of deployables. Since launching the FirstNet network in 2018, the FirstNet Authority has worked with AT&T to increase the number of deployables from 72 to now over 100 mobile assets available to FirstNet users.”

Only FirstNet, Built with AT&T, has dedicated assets to provide fire, EMS, law enforcement and more with unthrottled access to connectivity when and where you need it. This can be in the immediate aftermath of a storm or other disaster, when commercial power and other infrastructure may be down.

The new assets

Here’s a breakdown of the new additions:

  • We’ve stationed 3 Communications Vehicles (CVs) across the country to provide an extra-level of communications support, beyond the standard deployable asset for first responders when needed. You can use these new assets for emergency deployments or planned events such as training exercises. These assets provide connectivity via LTE (high-quality Band 14 spectrum) and/or Wi-Fi similar to a Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT). They give you an air-conditioned command space for 2 first responder communications personnel, multiple monitors, a television and charging stations, and a large exterior screen and speakers for briefings. We’ve also equipped the CVs with a generator that can run for multiple days before refueling. Plus, the CVs include a lavatory, microwave, mini refrigerator and sleeping bunk – for those long deployments in the harshest of conditions.

  • We’ve stationed 4 Micro SatCOLTs out West to support you during the 2021 wildfire season. The micro SatCOLTs are similar to the Compact Rapid Deployables available to agencies to own. And a single technician can deploy the asset within a matter of minutes once onsite. Their agility makes them ideal for supporting firefighters on the front lines as they adjust to wildfire’s unpredictable nature.

  • FirstNet supports America’s entire public safety community. That means first responders in all 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia. By collaborating with local network providers in each region, we have dedicated assets stationed in Puerto Rico and the 3 Pacific territories. And we’ve added 2 new portable assets in the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide immediate support.

  • We’ve also added 10 SatCOLTs to provide first responders capabilities and connectivity similar to a cell tower. They’re housed across more than 50 locations nationwide to enable a 14-hour delivery window following the initial emergency request.

The FirstNet fleet can also go airborne with 3 FirstNet Flying COWs and the FirstNet One aerostat. FirstNet One is a first-of-its-kind public safety communications solution that can fly up to 1,000 feet and replace multiple ground-based portable cell sites, making them available to deploy elsewhere. In addition to the FirstNet fleet, public safety can also tap into the 300+ assets, from the AT&T Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) fleet when available. The AT&T NDR program is one of the largest, most advanced of its kind with more than $650 million invested in the U.S. and another $15 million invested internationally.

Why is this important?

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season shattered records as the most active ever. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has once again predicted an above-normal season. Plus, extremely dry conditions in the West have primed the region for another potent wildfire season. So it’s never been more important for public safety to have deployable solutions dedicated to you – no matter where your mission takes you.

“When disaster strikes, FirstNet is there to support first responders. It’s as simple as that,” said Jason Porter, President, Public Sector and the FirstNet Program at AT&T. “We’ve expanded the FirstNet fleet to provide even more portable cell sites, as well as to introduce new types of assets to help public safety stay mission ready. FirstNet is the only network that has assets fully dedicated to support America’s first responders, and we will continue to be at-the-ready for those who put their lives on the line to protect and serve their communities – no matter the emergency.”

So far this year, public safety has requested support more than 200 times for planned and emergency events covering everything from COVID-19 vaccination centers to winter storms. The Response Operations Group (ROG), a team of former first responders, guides deployment of the FirstNet deployable assets, as well as the ‘ROG the Dog’ assisted therapy animals. Their intimate understanding of the public safety mission sets FirstNet apart. ROG works around the clock, 24x7x365, to help first responders stay connected and operate faster, safer and more effectively – especially when lives are on the line. This has made a meaningful, mission-impacting difference for thousands of first responders and hundreds of agencies across the country.

“Public safety identified mobile coverage as a ‘must have’ early in the development of FirstNet, and since then we have seen both an increased use of and demand for the fleet of dedicated portable cell sites,” said Parkinson. “The FirstNet Authority is pleased to deliver on our investments to expand the fleet and provide more innovative coverage solutions to public safety.”

Need FirstNet support?

Agencies on FirstNet can call 1-800-574-7000. When public safety calls for additional support, FirstNet ROG will work with the agency to assess the situation. They will either deploy one of the 100+ dedicated assets in the FirstNet fleet, or identify and provide alternate solutions that could better serve public safety. This could include expediting network restoration or quickly turning-up indoor coverage. 

FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks and service marks of the First Responder Network Authority. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.