How FirstNet Helped an Alaskan Community Cut Off by Arctic Sea Ice

AT&T Blog Team and
December 13, 2023
Public Safety


How FirstNet Helped an Alaskan Community Cut Off by Arctic Sea Ice

Spanning a territory larger than California, Texas and Montana combined, the state of Alaska is massive. Known for its diverse geography, including rugged forests, snowcapped mountains, and pristine glacial lakes, staying connected to neighbors and the outside world is very important for the more than 700,000 people who call Alaska home.

In such a vast landscape, with nearly all of the regions remote, the importance of connectivity for first responders cannot be overstated.

Swift and reliable connectivity allows first responders to coordinate responses properly and remain in communication with their teams. AT&T is honored to collaborate with the FirstNet Authority in providing essential communication resources in Alaska through FirstNet®, Built with AT&T — the first and only nationwide public safety wireless broadband platform designed for first responders and their supporters.  More than just a network, FirstNet encompasses advanced services, applications, and purpose-built devices, ensuring comprehensive support for those on the front lines.

About 27,000 public safety agencies and organizations subscribe to FirstNet’s network services and support.  When one of these agencies’ communications capabilities is compromised, the FirstNet Response Operations Group (ROG) takes action to ensure those who need it are adequately supported.

When Arctic Sea Ice Strikes, FirstNet is There

In June 2023, when an undersea cable located roughly 30 miles off the northernmost point of Alaska was cut by sea ice, a community of more than 10,000 Alaskans and FirstNet subscribed agencies lost cellular service. The FirstNet ROG teams sprang into action immediately.

Prioritizing critical locations such as hospitals, air ambulance hangers, fire stations and dispatch facilities to ensure first responders could communicate with one another, ROG teams took immediate action to ensure that the heroes who support emergencies for towns like Utqiagvik (f.k.a. Barrow), Wainwright and Point Hope had the dedicated connectivity they needed to stay mission ready.

Whether responding to natural disasters like severe spring flooding, avalanches, wildfires, or any other emergency scenario imaginable, FirstNet deployables and general network support have been critical to Alaska’s first responders since the state opted into the program in 2017.

To ensure Alaska’s first responders were aware of the resources available to them, earlier this year, FirstNet held ROG events in Anchorage and Juneau. Attendees were able to learn more about cutting-edge technologies, from deployables big and small like the SatColts (satellite cell on light trucks) and CRDs (Compact Rapid Deployables) to Mini CRDs and MegaRange High-Powered User Equipment.

Events like these demonstrate the importance of ensuring connectivity for our first responders and our neighbors alike. FirstNet provides more than just critical connectivity for the public safety community, but peace of mind knowing when tragedy strikes, our community is protected.

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

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