What cell towers does FirstNet use?

Answered by John Hunt

FirstNet, the nationwide public safety network, utilizes a unique combination of shared AT&T infrastructure and dedicated FirstNet assets to provide a reliable and secure LTE network for public safety agencies. As a user of the FirstNet network, I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the benefits of this hybrid network.

Firstly, let’s delve into the shared AT&T infrastructure that forms the foundation of the FirstNet network. AT&T has invested billions of dollars in building and maintaining a robust network of cell towers across the country. These towers, equipped with the necessary equipment, provide coverage and connectivity to both AT&T customers and FirstNet users. By leveraging the existing AT&T infrastructure, FirstNet is able to extend its coverage to a large portion of the population, ensuring that public safety agencies have access to reliable communication wherever they are.

In addition to the shared infrastructure, FirstNet also utilizes dedicated assets to further enhance the network’s capabilities for public safety. This includes the deployment of Band 14 spectrum, which is exclusive to FirstNet. Band 14 is a slice of the 700 MHz spectrum that was dedicated to public safety use as part of the FirstNet legislation. By having access to this dedicated spectrum, public safety agencies can enjoy priority and preemption on the network, ensuring that their communications take precedence during times of high demand or emergencies.

To support the operation of the FirstNet network, AT&T has made significant investments in people, processes, systems, and equipment. This includes the deployment of Cell on Wheels (COWs) and Cell on Light Trucks (COLTs) – mobile cell towers that can be rapidly deployed to areas experiencing high demand or in need of additional coverage. These assets have proven to be invaluable during major events, natural disasters, or in rural or remote areas where additional coverage is required.

Furthermore, AT&T has implemented stringent security measures to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the FirstNet network. Public safety agencies rely on this network for sensitive and critical communications, and any breach could have serious consequences. AT&T’s investments in security technologies and protocols help to protect the network from cyber threats and ensure the privacy of communications.

The FirstNet network utilizes a hybrid approach, leveraging both shared AT&T infrastructure and dedicated FirstNet assets. This combination provides public safety agencies with a reliable, nationwide LTE network that is tailored to their unique needs. The network’s ability to prioritize and preempt communications, along with its robust coverage and security measures, makes it a powerful tool for public safety professionals.