Giving Thanks to Our First Responders 

AT&T Blog Team
November 22, 2021
Broadband Access and Affordability, Public Safety

Giving Thanks to Our First Responders 

During this season of thanks, and every day, we are grateful for our first responders, for putting their communities first and always answering the call. At AT&T, we’re proud to support FirstNet, the only nationwide high-speed broadband communications platform for first responders. FirstNet was made possible by the joint effort of Congress, AT&T, and first responders like Thomas Nicolette and Fred Scalera – who advocated for the creation of FirstNet after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Nicolette and Scalera were both members of the Nutley Fire Department in New Jersey on that tragic day. They recall that first responders were not able to easily connect with their teams, other emergency crews, or their loved ones — who were watching events unfold on TV.  Inspired by their experience on 9/11, Nicolette and Scalera made it their mission to improve communications for first responders during emergency situations. 

“When you’re in a situation like that and you just want to check in to tell your family you’re OK, to not be able to do that on 9/11 was a huge problem because you don’t know what your family is seeing on the news,” Nicolette said. 

FirstNet is the premier platform in the U.S. for public safety communications, providing first responders dedicated connectivity on a purpose-built, highly secure network to support their communication during everything from major events to disasters to everyday operations.  

 Between July and September 2021, public safety adopted FirstNet at its highest rate ever – providing more than 2.8 million connections to more than 18,500 agencies. We’re proud to be able to connect first responders to the information and people they need in emergencies, but our work is far from done. 

Looking ahead, we’re committed to growing and innovating FirstNet through: 

  • Expanding 5G connectivity on FirstNet. FirstNet’s first responder-centric 5G provides ultra high speeds, helping first responders do their jobs more efficiently and enabling innovations like deploying cameras to the front gate of a stadium to screen attendees’ temperatures, or immediately transmitting data from ambulance to emergency room. We offer 5G connectivity on FirstNet in 48 cities and are rolling out more locations regularly. 
  • Providing industry-leading encryption security. We know the importance protecting first responders, without sacrificing usability or impacting missions. We recently became the first network to roll out security upgrades on every cell tower across the country, to help ensure that FirstNet traffic will be automatically secured as it moves from the cell tower, through the backhaul, to the core and back again.  
  • Growing our FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition. We understand the personal sacrifices and burdens that come along with public service, and believe it’s vital to take care of first responders. With two dozen member organizations representing more than 1.3 million first responders, the coalition has, and will continue, to be the backbone of everything we do to support the health and wellbeing of our first responders. 

To Thomas Nicolette, Fred Scalera, and first responders everywhere: thank you for your dedication to connecting communities to brighter futures.