More than 14,000 first-responder entities subscribe to FirstNet and have made more than 1.7 million connections to the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) as of the end of September, meaning FirstNet added almost 1 million connection during the previous 14 months, according to figures from contractor AT&T.
An AT&T spokesperson today confirmed to IWCE’s Urgent Communications
Last August, AT&T reported that FirstNet had more than 750,000 connections and almost 9,000 subscribing agencies, so FirstNet added more than 5,000 subscribing agencies and organizations—and more than 900,000 connections—during the subsequent 14 months, according to the AT&T figures.
But not all FirstNet connections are smartphones used by first-responder personnel. As is the case in the broader market—particularly during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic—other types of devices increasingly are leveraging FirstNet connectivity, according to Stephens. Overall, AT&T had about 4 million connected devices added to the network during the third quarter, he said.
AT&T CEO John Stankey said one reason for the carrier’s low churn rate in its mobile wireless offerings during the third quarter is attributable in part to the network enhancements made in an effort to meet FirstNet obligations—as well as the opportunity to leverage the 20 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum licensed to the FirstNet Authority.
“As COVID hit and the wireless networks became much more suburban-oriented than urban-oriented, our strength in low-band spectrum—our literally undisputed strength in volume of low-band spectrum—has helped, because the suburban experience is oftentimes a more distributed experience. And when you think about penetrating inside buildings, you need low-band spectrum to do that. Mid-band is not going to do that in a suburban environment, nor is millimeter wave—at least not anytime soon, until density starts to pick up.”