FirstNet Shines During April’s Solar Eclipse

John Emra, President – AT&T Atlantic Region
June 7, 2024
Public Safety

FirstNet Shines During April’s Solar Eclipse

On April 8, 2024, America was focused (hopefully not without proper eyewear) on an historic solar eclipse. 

The eclipse’s path of totality stretched from Texas through Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and cut right across the top of New England.   

Our focus was on keeping first responders and public safety agencies connected during this momentous occasion through FirstNet®, Built with AT&T — America’s public safety network. 

While we knew the eclipse itself would have no direct operational impact on our network, we were keenly aware of the large gatherings of excited eclipse-watchers expected in remote locations. 

As first responders prepared for these watch parties across the country, FirstNet worked together with local, tribal, state and federal public safety agencies to ensure they had the reliable communications they required to help keep their communities safe.   

The FirstNet team supported more than 85 requests from public safety agencies in nearly every state along the path of totality. This included advanced planning to optimize the network to enhance coverage and network capacity, as well as deploying public safety’s dedicated FirstNet deployable network assets. In fact, more than a dozen FirstNet assets were deployed. 

Here in New England, northern regions of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine found themselves in the path of totality and planned to host eclipse watch parties. Many of these parties would take place in small towns and rural areas.  

FirstNet, along with AT&T’s network and external affairs teams, began communicating with state and local governments months ahead of the eclipse. Throughout the long planning phase, our team participated in dozens of planning meetings, site visits and strategy sessions to ensure that public safety had the reliable connectivity they required. These broad coalitions included numerous entities in each state, from local police and fire to state police, local utility companies and departments of Fish & Game.  

All of this effort meant that on April 8th, as the sky began to darken in northern New England, FirstNet was ready.  

In Jackman, Maine, not far from the Canadian border, FirstNet deployed a Satellite Cell on Light Truck, or SatCOLT, to support public safety.  

In the days following the eclipse, Bill Jarvis, the Chief of the Jackman-Moose River Fire & Rescue Department, said: “I offer my sincere thanks to FirstNet and AT&T for being involved with the planning meetings, and for setting up a temporary cell tower between West Forks and Jackman to fill in a large portion of the no-cell-coverage area. Although FirstNet provides priority cellular service for first responders through AT&T, the service works for 911 calls from anyone. And also, thank you to FirstNet for working to set up cell phone boosters where needed in the region.” 

Next door in New Hampshire, another SatCOLT was deployed to the region near the Vermont and Canadian borders in the town of Colebrook.  

Chief Richard N. Dube II of the Pittsburg Police Department in nearby Pittsburg, New Hampshire wrote: “On behalf of the Town of Pittsburg, I would like to thank AT&T / FirstNet for supporting our community during the solar eclipse. The equipment they provided in areas of little or no cell service in case we needed it was up and ready if the need arose. Failing to plan is planning to fail.” 

We are grateful to all the government and public safety entities across the region for their collaboration and their service to their communities. The dedicated work of first responders ensured the eclipse was safely enjoyed by all.  

Sunshine, solar eclipse or whatever else the cosmos has in store, FirstNet will remain committed to keeping the public safety community connected. 


FirstNet and the FirstNet logo are registered trademarks of the First Responder Network Authority.  All other marks are the property of their respective owners. 

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