FirstNet to be deployed at 15 Air Force bases

The public safety network will provide secure and interoperable communications between Air Force first responders and the local public safety organizations.

FirstNet, the high-speed wireless broadband communications network built for public safety, will now provide its services to 15 Air Force bases.

Under the 21-year deal, the bases will be able to support voice, data and streaming video communications, interoperability with existing land mobile radio assets as well as secure and interoperable communications between first responders on base and the local public safety workforce.

Users will get access to FirstNet’s priority and preemption services across LTE Band 14 spectrum plus all of AT&T's commercial LTE spectrum bands.  FirstNet will give the Air Force bases tower-to-core encryption so that all traffic is automatically secured as it navigates different parts of the network.

FirstNet now covers 2.7 million square miles and features an upgraded 5G core. Additionally, it is built to strict public safety specifications and requirements, unlike commercial networks, AT&T said in its announcement.

“When off-base first responders support on-base responses, they will benefit from these coverage enhancements,” Lance Spencer, client executive vice president for defense at AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet, told Air Force Magazine. “Key command and operations positions will also be able to access this network.”

Spencer said the company aims to deploy FirstNet to all Air Force and Space Force bases.

Last year, the Air Force worked with AT&T to test 5G networking-as-a-service capabilities at three bases, where the company also provided a base-area network, wide-area network, telephony, internet access and secure interoperability with legacy systems at the three bases, company officials said at the time.

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