FirstNet - Built with AT&T
FirstNet is the nation’s first dedicated and prioritized network for first responders and their supporting industries and personnel intended to ensure communication during emergencies and other time-sensitive events. Within this service exists Band 14, which is a dedicated, unique band allocated to AT&T to enhance their FirstNet ecosystem. Band 14 exists on a superior spectrum that performs better in rural areas and through buildings while handling an extensive amount of data. During an emergency, only first responders can access Band 14.
Currently, the existing LTE network supports FirstNet core. Over the next 5 years, Band 14 radios will be added to cell sites, with progress updated at FirstNet.com. Verizon will eventually offer a competing solution called Private Traffic Network Management (PTNM). It will operate on Verizon’s existing network without a dedicated core network.
Existing customers can upgrade their existing accounts to a FirstNet rate plan and receive priority and preemption benefits. This does not require a new SIM. Your existing AT&T SIM is sufficient. However, moving forward end-users will need an actual FirstNet SIM to have true access to the FirstNet core network.
Panasonic is an authorized FirstNet Master Dealer. Panasonic Toughbook CF‐54’s, CF-20’s and CF-33’s and with newer EM7455 4G LTE modules will be upgradable in the future to EM7511 modules through Panasonic’s Service Center at a date and price to-be-determined. Test SIMs are potentially available for qualified customers.
Editor's Note: Here is a blunt run down of what FirstNet really is, who it is important to, and what to do about it. AT&T was essentially the only bidder to the governments RFQ to create a dedicated data (and eventually voice) network to help the amazing-humans-who-risk-their-lives-to-save-and-protect-ours communicate during a disaster or other event. After 911 we all realized very quickly that first responders could not reach each other properly when everyone else jumped on a phone or the internet. This actually continues to be the case even today during natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, etc. Verizon believes they can carve out a fast line in their existing network that will be sufficient. AT&T has gone all-in with building out Band 14, which will be the dedicated frequency for the very helpful dedicated network. It will take realistically 5-15 years to truly build it out. In the meantime, device users like police, fire and EMS can switch to AT&T and subscribe to a FirstNet plan that puts you in AT&T's own fast-lane.
Here's the bottom-line. First responders need a better way to send and receive both data (internet) and voice (phone calls) during emergencies. It remains to be seen exactly how this will play out between Verizon and AT&T and whose solution proves better in the long-run. However, regardless of private sector competition between the carriers for your money, AT&T will be the only carrier who can ultimately give first responders access to Band 14 for decades to come. It is worth it for all FirstNet qualifying users to take a step back and really assess the options available in both the short term and long term. The decisions that these institutions and companies make over the coming years will heavily influence how a solution to a problem that affects all of us evolves. Our goal would be to help our customers navigate the quickly changing dynamics between their hardware (Panasonic), their carrier of choice (AT&T, Verizon, etc), FirstNet as a government mandated First Responder Network Authority, and their resources. Call us to talk FirstNet! 877-532-8088.