FirstNet: What Mission Critical First Responders Should Know

With all eyes in the nation turned toward visions of safety and security, the creation of FirstNet is an attempt to provide a nationwide network specifically dedicated to first responders.

Congress authorized FirstNet in 2012 with the mission of developing and building a nationwide broadband network that allows first responders access to key information to aid them in their jobs of serving local communities.

What is FirstNet?

FirstNet is a communication network built with AT&T dedicated exclusively to public safety users, primarily first responders. The network offers real-time, location-based technologies that help identify the position of mobile response teams as they work to manage mission-critical situations.

In the event of first responders, this technology can be instrumental in the following:

  • Improving dispatch of responding units for expedited response times.
  • Ensuring no position remains vulnerable in tactical situations.
  • Providing even distribution of responders in the field.
  • Ensuring first responder safety by facilitating communication and monitoring the precise location of all units in the field.

The goal is to facilitate cooperation and share information quickly and efficiently among various teams and members of teams in the field. In volatile situations, fast access to communication can be the difference between life and death.

Why was FirstNet Created?

Congress authorized the building and implementation of FirstNet in 2012 upon the recommendation of the 9-11 Commission Report. The idea being that by providing one network all first responders could rely on, it would eliminate the difficulties experienced on 9-11 when different agencies and responders were unable to communicate and coordinate their rescue efforts.

The idea today is one of encouraging cooperation between agencies while facilitating communities. This is especially necessary for community-wide events that require a large-scale emergency response between multiple agencies.

While most people are considering big city problems when you think of FirstNet, it also solves communication problems in rural areas where first responders are more spread out and may receive spotty coverage with other communications systems.

To be effective, FirstNet must provide first responders with the following:

  • Coverage
  • Capacity
  • Security
  • Interoperability
  • Quality of Service

These are essential tools for communicating effectively when they are in the field saving lives or in harm’s way.

The FirstNet project involves professional first responders as active members of the board of directors along with private sector technology and innovation to create a communications systems that can meet the needs of first responders across the country in large cities and rural areas alike.

FirstNet operates as an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce offering modernized communications essential to keep first responders connected during their daily responsibilities and when responding to large-scale emergencies alike.

How to Learn More About FirstNet

Visit to learn more about FirstNet products and services, and how to subscribe for the FirstNet service once your state or territory. Locate the “Contact Us” button at the bottom of the page and complete the form to be connected to a FirstNet specialist.

Visit to learn more about the First Responder Network Authority’s public safety program, and sign up for their newsletter.

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