FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network, now features ruthless preemption services for first responder subscribers across the country. This feature is now available to first responders in states and territories that have opted in to the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T plan and have subscribed to FirstNet service.
Preemption is a mission-critical feature that enables first responders on FirstNet to communicate and coordinate during emergencies, large events or other situations where commercial networks can become congested.
“As a first responder on 9/11, I experienced the communications challenges that can happen in large emergencies as networks become congested and overwhelmed," said Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Bowers. "Now, with the launch of preemption on FirstNet, for the first time, public safety is ensured a ‘fast lane’ to connect. FirstNet will provide reliability, confidence and ability for first responders to be able to communicate during emergency operations. Virginia was first in to opt in, and we’re all in to ensure emergency communications are seamless for first responders.”
Preemption is immediately available in opt-in states at no additional charge to current and future FirstNet subscribers who are primary users. Primary users include fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency managers, dispatch and Public Safety Answering Points.
Preemption will enhance priority services already available on FirstNet. Priority moves first responders to the front of the “communications line,” prioritizing their network needs. Preemption goes a step further to make sure first responders can access FirstNet when they need to, 24/7/365. When the line becomes crowded, it shifts non-emergency traffic to another line, freeing up space for first responders to easily get through. Calls or texts to 911 will never be shifted from the network.
“First responders have been very clear about their immediate need for preemption. During the collaborative conversations that shaped our FirstNet plan, preemption continually topped the list of mission-critical tools first responders wanted to see first on the network,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T – FirstNet. “So, we promised to make it available by the end of the year. And we’re proud to honor that commitment. This is game-changing for first responders, and as far as we know, this is the first-ever launch of preemption at this scale in the world.”
With the power of priority and preemption, first responders will no longer have to compete with non-emergency users for a connection. They’ll be able to reliably connect to the network to get the information they need when they need it. Voice and text messages, images, videos, location information, data from apps and more will be supported in real time, helping first responders quickly work together to save lives.
“The launch of preemption is a tremendous achievement for public safety personnel – who have asked for, fought for, and needed this solution for years,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. “We are pleased that FirstNet is the first broadband network to deliver this capability to public safety.”
An opt-out state will not be able to offer its first responders access to a similar capability until its alternative plan is approved and Band 14 is deployed, which will likely take years.