The U.S. Army yesterday announced it selected FirstNet to support firefighters, law enforcement and security personnel at 72 Army installations across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Under the Task Order, AT&T is delivering nearly 3,200 lines of FirstNet services, more than 3,000 FirstNet-capable devices and 700+ signal boosters to help improve indoor connectivity. The carrier is also providing staging and the assemblage of devices, including preloading multiple FirstNet apps on the devices. In addition, with FirstNet, the U.S. Army has access to a dedicated nationwide fleet of 76-plus land-based and airborne portable cell sites stationed across the country to provide connectivity during significant events in support of public safety’s mission. These critical response assets are available 24/7 to the U.S. Army’s Incident Commanders at no additional charge, according to FirstNet.
The Army explored the benefits of FirstNet during a pilot program in Spring 2020 at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, NC. The Ocean Terminal is part of the Army’s Materiel Command’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. The Army also evaluated FirstNet’s capabilities with its fire and military police responders under storm conditions to better understand how they could benefit from FirstNet. The pilot program allowed the Army to see the benefits of in-building signal boosters as well as FirstNet’s ease of use, resilience and the breadth of capabilities that could be available to each Army installation regardless of size or location.
More recently, when Hurricane Laura hit the Army’s Fort Polk in Louisiana on August 27 with maximum sustained winds of 150 miles-per-hour, it carved a path through and around the installation, taking down trees and power lines and cutting communications. The Army tested FirstNet Ready™ wireless routers installed in camera-equipped vehicles that provided Army operations and planners with near real-time delivery of video despite the extreme weather conditions. They agreed the solution proved to be an effective means to support incident management and restore base operations following a natural disaster.
“FirstNet is helping us improve vital communications on our installations, depots and arsenals, including during catastrophic disasters or emergencies when communications capabilities are strained” said Colonel Kevin Comfort, Command Provost Marshal at Headquarters, Installation Management Command, located in Joint Base San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston, TX. “We’re adopting FirstNet because it is designed for public safety professionals with priority, preemption and highly reliable data communications that will improve our overall response and our interoperability with our civilian partners.”