BALTIMORE, MARYLAND — FirstNet-AT&T continues to see rapid growth, with more than 9,000 agencies now signed on to its service and more than 750,000 connections, according to the carrier’s latest update.

AT&T has more than 650 markets built out with 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum, and reported that it is at about 65% completion of its coverage build-out requires that are part of its contract with FirstNet. AT&T has touted the success it is seeing in network upgrades and performance as a result of a one-touch approach to upgrading existing equipment in conjunction with the FirstNet build-out. The carrier expects a 50% increase in capacity as it adds support for all of its bands as well as more advanced LTE features.

AT&T also spotlighted new capabilities that it plans to add to FirstNet by the end of the year. Mission-critical push-to-talk is expected to debut by the end of this year, and the carrier said that it is working with Assured Wireless on High-Power User Equipment (HPUE), which can operate in Band 14 to transmit stronger signals.

AT&T said that for rural and remote responders, HPUE “could significantly increase their coverage area” while improving indoor reception in urban and suburban environments and tricky coverage situations such as basements, elevators, parking garages and stairwells.

Among the other FirstNet updates that AT&T highlighted:

-FirstNet’s deployable response program has helped public safety users in 75 emergency events and 100 planned events such as festivals and Fourth of July celebrations.

John Rockwell, statewide 911 coordinator, FirstNet single-point-of-contact and acting SWIC for the Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers, said in a statement that as his organization helped support deployment in northern Alaska last month to fire a fire, FirstNet had a satellite Cell on Light Truck on-scene within five hours and “it was the furthest north we’ve ever had unified communications, making our ability to respond that much easier and more efficient.”

-AT&T is also offering up FirstNet as a wireless back-up connectivity option for its AT&T ESINet 911 call-routing service. If ESINet detects a failure in a public safety answering point’s primary connection, it can route calls over FirstNet via a private mobile connection in order to keep the PSAP connected, AT&T said.


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