In context: AT&T’s FirstNet broadband network has been providing first responders and emergency services with reliable, high-priority access to the internet since 2012. That access has proven especially invaluable over the past couple of years as the US has faced unprecedented wildfires, severe hurricanes, and, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic.
AT&T today announced that FirstNet will be getting a major upgrade in the form of official 5G support. Given that first responders reportedly consumed, on average, “double the mobile data” of an ordinary consumer in 2020 alone, this change will likely be met with open arms.
The data AT&T will be providing via FirstNet’s 5G implementation will go through the company’s mmWave 5G network, meaning emergency service personnel should have access to the fastest possible data transfer speeds available now — to average people, anyway.
The initial rollout won’t be massive. AT&T’s mmWave 5G will only be available to first responders in “38 cities” and “more than 20 venues,” but it should still make a noticeable difference for those who use it. Also notable is AT&T’s decision to bring “comprehensive encryption” to its FirstNet network — the company says it will be the first-ever nationwide network with this degree of security.
Some of the FirstNet cities set to receive 5G include Austin, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona, Los Angeles, California, and Atlanta, Georgia (you can see the full list in the image above).