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Data: FirstNet's Subscription Base Grew 67% Last Year

The nationwide communications network for public safety has come a long way since it started operating in 2018. New numbers from AT&T, the company hired to build out the network, illustrate how it continues to grow.

A woman uses a laptop in an ambulance
Now entering its fourth year of operation, FirstNet is still seeing rapid growth across several metrics.

That makes sense, given the ambitious nature of the project: FirstNet is the United States’ big attempt at creating a nationwide, interoperable network for public safety communications, and it’s been in the making since the turn of the millennium.

According to newly-released numbers from AT&T, the company that won the contract to build out FirstNet, last year the network saw double-digit growth in agencies supported and subscribers — among other things.
The number of subscribers was perhaps the most important increase, since it points to true adoption of the network; last year, subscriptions rose 67 percent from about 1.2 million to 2 million.

The number of agencies supported is not reflective of the number of jurisdictions using FirstNet; if a police department and a fire department in the same city are supported, then AT&T would count them as two for the purposes of this data.

FirstNet is also growing in other areas. Last year, it added about 110 devices, 60 applications and about 100,000 square miles of coverage.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct a calculation error in FirstNet's percentage growth.


Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.