As with every hurricane season, the need to be prepared is critically important this year and connectivity is vital before, during and after any natural catastrophe. FirstNet has announced they are ready for any event and have pre-staged assets braced for nature’s impact. Included in their arsenal are:
- The Original 72: These dedicated mobile cell sites, including assets such as Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs), provide first responders with similar capabilities and connectivity as a cell tower. Plus, they’re housed across more than 50 locations nationwide to enable a 14-hour delivery window following the initial emergency request.
- FirstNet Flying Cell on Wings (COWs™): In 2019, the FirstNet fleet went airborne with the addition of 3 Flying COWs. They are able to reach heights of up to 400 feet, making them ideal for situations like wildfires and mountain rescue missions where the terrain may have previously made it difficult to maintain connectivity. During Hurricane Michael, a Flying COW provided service to first responders in hard-hit Mexico Beach, FL to support the recovery.
- FirstNet One Aerostat: FirstNet One claimed to be a “first-of-its-kind” public safety communications solution to help keep responders connected during large-scale, catastrophic events – like potential upcoming major hurricanes. Flying up to 1,000 feet, it is designed to replace multiple ground-based portable cell sites and free those dedicated assets to be used by other agencies nationwide.
- The Pacific Territories: As part of expanding the FirstNet footprint to the Pacific territories,FirstNet has also added an on-island portable cell sites for each territory. One of these assets is currently supporting COVID-19 response operations in Guam.
- AT&T Network Disaster Recovery Fleet (NDR): has more than $650 million invested in the U.S. and another $15 million invested internationally, FirstNet boasts that AT&T NDR program is one of the largest, and most advanced of its kind. The agency says, in addition to the FirstNet fleet, public safety will be able to tap into the 300+ assets, from the AT&T NDR fleet when available.
Beyond expanding their original 72 dedicated portable cell sites, next year they announced they will be able to bring public safety agencies new types of assets for their response efforts, like mobile command vehicles. In the event of an emergency, a mobile command vehicle can be stationed near the scene or disaster and provide a central communications hub for first responders.
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