Now covering more than 2.61 million square miles of the nation, AT&T says it is aggressively expanding the LTE coverage area for its network and FirstNet public safety communications platform. This means more first responders and the communities they serve—rural, urban and tribal—are gaining access to the critical communications capabilities they need, says AT&T.

"We've been on a mission for some time now to make AT&T's network not only the nation's fastest and most reliable, but the nation's largest," said Chris Sambar, executive vice president, technology and operations, AT&T. "The truth is we added significantly more coverage than any other wireless provider last year. And we're on target to add more coverage again this year. By expanding our wireless coverage footprint, we're laying the foundation for 5G, and we're bringing our nation's first responders the most expansive dedicated platform with innovative capabilities to strengthen their incident response wherever their mission takes them."

Last year alone, AT&T says it added 120,000+ square miles. That's more than twice the coverage growth than the previous year, or an area equal to the entire state of New Mexico.

"FirstNet isn't just any network, it is public safety's communications highway," said Jason Porter, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T. "As more and more public safety agencies turn to FirstNet for their communication needs—from massive events to emergency situations like wildfires and hurricanes—we remain steadfast in our commitment to aggressively expand the network and the innovative solutions first responders depend on. And this is only the beginning." 

For example, during pro football's championship game in Miami, fans broke data records while cheering on their team. But that didn't hinder first responders using FirstNet. With the dedicated FirstNet network core, public safety's emergency communications didn't have to compete with attendees' voice and data traffic—it came first, says AT&T.

In fact, public safety used almost 4 times as much data per user compared to fans, with traffic reaching its peak as tailgaters began to enter the stadium area. First responders conducted over 30,000 data sessions and roughly 3,000 calls during the Big Game. That's like streaming more than 100 hours of high-definition video without interference or interruption from fan selfies and social posts.

"FirstNet is spurring innovation that will help save lives, and we are thrilled to see the network continue to grow to reach more communities and responders that serve them across the country," said FirstNet Authority Acting CEO Edward Parkinson. "AT&T's recognition as the public safety company of the year [by Frost & Sullivan] is a testament to their ongoing dedication to serving America's first responders. We look forward to another year of FirstNet expansion with AT&T and the public safety community."

Go here for more FirstNet news. Or check out FirstNet.com to learn more about the program.

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