(TNS) –– ATLANTA – Gov. Nathan Deal has stepped up the state’s communications capabilities for first responders by accepting the FirstNet and AT&T plan, a public/private partnership, to deliver a wireless broadband network to Georgia’s public safety community.
The FirstNet network will bring advanced technologies that will help Georgia’s first responders save lives and protect communities, according to network advocates.
According to officials, AT&T, along with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a secure wireless broadband communications network for Georgia’s public safety community, at no cost to the state, while the network drives innovation and creates a system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders.
“Congress established FirstNet as an independent authority in the Department of Commerce in 2012 and allocated $7 billion to build a public safety network,” a FirstNet spokesperson told The Albany Herald Thursday afternoon. “That wasn’t quite enough money to build a full nationwide network that public safety needs, so we entered into a public/private partnership with AT&T. That allows us to build that network out very quickly. And it allows us to start putting users across AT&T’s existing network, offering things like priority service and pre-emption, which is really what public safety needs the most.”
Georgia’s decision to opt in enables FirstNet and AT&T to begin offering an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications, officials said, and will transform the way fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information.
“There are valuable services that will be available to Georgia now that the state is opting in,” the FirstNet spokesperson said. “The immediate thing that they are going to have access to is priority service across AT&T’s existing network.”
The FirstNet official explained that if, for example, a public safety subscriber was with thousands of fans at a large football game who were all competing for the same bandwidth by posting pictures or live streaming, the public safety personnel would get priority access ahead of regular commercial customers in emergency situations.
“If they needed to communicate about a lost child at the game, they could send pictures back and forth, from one cellphone to another, with priority over the commercial customers who are not using the network for a life-saving mission,” the FirstNet official said. “And pre-emption is expected to be in place by December, meaning that if the network is full, commercial traffic will be re-routed to make room for public safety. First responders and public safety personnel can subscribe simply by switching their existing network to FirstNet.”
Now that Georgia has opted in, first responder subscribers can expect to have immediate access to priority voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network. Fire, police, EMS and other public safety workers will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365.
“We are pleased Georgia is opting in to partner with FirstNet and AT&T to provide innovative communication technologies that will help us more effectively do our jobs,” Georgia State Firefighters Association President Joey Hartley said. “During emergencies, it is critical for us to have a fully functional network to communicate with one another and coordinate our response. There is no doubt FirstNet better equips us with the modern technology needed to save lives.”
For more information, visit FirstNet.gov/mediakit.
©2017 The Albany Herald, Ga. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.