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FirstNet Platform Hits a Million Connections and Launches Blimp for Public Safety

By Ken Briodagh
December 04, 2019

According to a recent release, the FirstNet public safety communications platform is still in fast-growth mode, and has hit a new milestone. The platform has been built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), and more than 10,000 public safety agencies and organizations across the country have subscribed, according to the partners. And now, more than a million FirstNet connections reportedly are up and running.

“Public safety is called upon to handle emergencies every single day. They have to be ready for the worst with the best tools to help them respond safely, efficiently and effectively,” said Jason Porter, SVP, FirstNet Program, AT&T. “We’re honored to see FirstNet play a supporting role in that response for thousands of agencies across the country. FirstNet is the only wireless communications platform that’s been architected from the ground up just for the public safety community. It’s specifically designed to advance public safety communications, equipping subscribing first responders with the innovative, mission-focused tools, technologies and features they can’t get anywhere else.”

In addition, the FirstNet disaster response toolset has been expanded with FirstNet One, a blimp and the 76th deployable network asset to join the nationwide FirstNet fleet. It reportedly can fly up to 1,000 feet, potentially providing twice the coverage area of Satellite Cells on Wheels or Flying Cells on Wings, while staying operational in windspeeds up to 50 mph and is capable of withstanding windspeeds up to 70 mph and staying aloft for about 2 weeks before needing additional helium top-off.

“Testing FirstNet One at the historically significant Sharpe Field once again broke new ground for the safety and protection of our country,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “With the launch of public safety’s aerostat, I look forward to seeing how FirstNet will continue to take the communications capabilities of our Nation’s first responders to the next level.”

So far this year, public safety has turned to FirstNet deployable network assets for additional support during more than 450 emergencies and planned events. For example, Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue called on the FirstNet team to support a large-scale training drill across numerous agencies spanning multiple jurisdictions.

Santa Clara County Sheriff Search and Rescue Technical Rescue Coordinator Rusty Wackermann said, “In remote areas of the county, communications have always been a challenge. And if we can’t communicate, we can’t see if our teams are safe or obtain the latest rescue status from those in the field. FirstNet is solving for this, giving us on-demand access to the connectivity we need when our community needs us the most.”


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

Editorial Director

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