Big or Small, FirstNet Has Your Community Event Covered

AT&T Blog Team
May 9, 2023
Public Safety

Big or Small, FirstNet Has Your Community Event Covered

No matter the size or day, community events bring people together. And when people convene in one place, operations – such as wireless connectivity – can get busy with lots of users. This is especially concerning for public safety, who need fast and seamless communications. Whether it is a 4th of July parade or an everyday school dismissal, first responders need reliable connectivity to plan, respond and recover on behalf of the public’s safety.

That’s where FirstNet comes in.

FirstNet®, Built with AT&T was built in response to the emergency crises you can’t plan for; but that also makes FirstNet uniquely prepared to handle those events you can plan for. The network and its support services were designed to ensure public safety departments have fast, interoperable communication at all times, especially when cellular traffic is higher than usual.

Boston’s 4th of July Celebration

Boston’s famed 4th of July celebration along the Charles River returned in 2022 after several years hiatus due to the pandemic. And so did the crowds, as evidenced by the massive increase in wireless traffic. In fact, data volume more than doubled when compared to 2018 – nearly 3 Terabytes in 2022, and 1.5 Terabytes four years earlier. FirstNet has kept in stride, finalizing significant network installations and utilizing enhancement tools like a Cell on Wheels and temporary macro sites. As a result, during Boston’s 2022 4th of July celebration, FirstNet lit up public safety service like the Esplanade fireworks. FirstNet data and voice reliability performed at 99.8% and 99.7%, respectively. FirstNet’s public safety network handled the demand from the start to the grand finale, with one of our public safety partners commenting: “FirstNet for the win.”

Boston Marathon

Culturally, economically, and historically, the Boston Marathon is integral to the City’s identity. This annual event routinely brings 30,000+ runners, massive crowds filled with their families, friends and spectators, international media and hundreds of millions of dollars into the greater Boston region. Security and safety for the Marathon is a massive undertaking, requiring year-long planning and inter-agency cooperation. Along with focused investment in our Boston network infrastructure, FirstNet worked with the Marathon officials to bring additional resources to the Start and Finish Lines, including a FirstNet SatCOLT (Satellite Cell on Light Truck), that provided Band 14 service with satellite for FirstNet users; and a FirstNet COW (Cell On Wheels).

During the 2023 Marathon, FirstNet saw 99% reliability, with no dips in service even during the peak hours of 10am to 12pm.

FirstNet performance is consistent. In 2022, FirstNet also saw 99% reliability even at the highest peak times throughout the Marathon, outperforming commercial networks. FirstNet Band 14 throughput was also 33% faster than commercial, meaning that not only were first responders able to get on the network, but they experienced excellent in-use performance.

FirstNet received positive feedback from our public safety partners, including the Massachusetts State Police and the head of the Marathon’s telecommunications, who called FirstNet’s performance a “jubilant success.” And in fact, the Race Operations Center located in Boston trusted their internet backup to FirstNet, in the event they ran into unexpected issues.

Halloween Festivities in Salem, MA

October can be a scary time for public safety in Salem, Massachusetts, as hundreds of thousands of people descend upon this small New England city. Each year, roads are closed, warnings posted as this rapid densification overwhelms many aspects of Salem, including its wireless networks. In 2022, the Salem Police Department – a FirstNet customer – turned to FirstNet to help them handle the massive crowd of more than 700,000 people over Halloween weekend. With strategically constructed infrastructure and close coordination with city officials, AT&T’s commercial network held up well – but FirstNet and its Band 14 spectrum performed even better, operating more than twice as fast with Voice and Data Reliability of 99.8%. The Salem Police Department reported an overwhelmingly positive experience compared to other carriers, while the Salem Mayor reported no issues with her own FirstNet device.

Daily School Dismissal in Derry, NH

The largest high school in New Hampshire is located in Derry, with more than 3,400 students and 400 staff letting out at roughly the same time every day. Derry Police had experienced intermittent and dropped connectivity for all their mobile computers prior to becoming FirstNet users, especially during the late afternoon and evening commute hours.

Derry Police Chief George Feole said: “The high school dismisses classes at 2:00 PM each day. Imagine adding 3,800 subscribers to your network all at once. Then add in countless commuters passing through our community trying to access the network during the commute hours. Our officers performed a shift change at 3:00 PM. The oncoming officers could not gain access/connectivity to the network until after the commuter hours, typically 6:00PM. The demands of public safety do not fade when demand for bandwidth increases, conversely, demand for public safety service typically increases during those times.”

Since becoming FirstNet subscribers, the department has seen improvement with uninterrupted communication capabilities even during peak times.

“We now enjoy 100% coverage throughout our response area 100% of the time,” said Chief Feole.  “FirstNet completely solved our service interruption problems. The priority and preemption services provided by FirstNet are crucial to efficient delivery of public safety services. If you are a public safety professional, FirstNet is a must have.”

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