How Requests for Public Safety Communications Support are Met

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The best internet provider AT&T® has delivered fulfilled ninety requests from FirstNet’s public safety customers in 2018 – many times more than it fulfilled in its commercial carrier role in 2017, the AT&T® executive who is in charge of FirstNet® told the First Responder Network Authority recently.

Chris Sambar, the senior VP of AT&T-FirstNet, said that the Dallas-based telecommunications company set up Response Operations Group in early 2018 to coordinate network assets’ deployment in response to requests for public safety communications’ support, during big planned events or disasters.

“The early impacts have been real, tangible and—at times—life-saving,” Sambar said during the board meeting, distributed over the internet. “We have multiple stories where lives have actually been saved because of the FirstNet® platform and its capabilities.”

One of the keys to the success of the Response Operations Group is that the philosophy it employs is different from a usual one for a commercial telecom carrier. Sambar said this pointing out that the FirstNet® response efforts do not necessitate any additional cost to public safety.

“The group is designed to work directly with public safety to help guide the deployment of network assets, based on—and this is important—life, safety, incident stabilization and property conservation. This isn’t a commercial-network priority anymore. This is shifting of our focus to the same priority that first responders have,” he added. “So, when we go into a crisis, we follow their [public-safety] priorities. And, as we follow their priorities, it gets their service up faster, which—in turn—helps the general populace.”

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The fastest internet provider has resolved ninety such requests since April – seventy in response to emergencies, and twenty for big planned events. “If I were to show you the numbers from last year, these numbers are between four and six times the number of responses that we did as a commercial network last year,” said Chris Sambar. “Now, with the FirstNet® program, we’re significantly expanding the number of responses that we’re doing.”

One of the Telco’s key FirstNet® milestones in 2018 was the delivery of seventy satellite-equipped cells on light truck or SatCOLT solutions, and several of the public safety requests for communications’ support are being met by deploying the assets. However, he stressed that the Telco giant’s personnel evaluate potential methods to fix communications problems and do not view the earlier-mentioned solutions as the lone answer.

Sambar said, “We don’t always drive one of those big one-ton trucks out and pop up an antenna. Sometimes, it’s as simple as daisy-chaining multiple routers to a macro site that got damaged due to wind, fire or something else. There’s a lot of different solutions out there we’re finding, and we’re getting really creative out there in the field.”

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