First responders in states that opted into FirstNet can now use preemption services to prioritize mission-critical communications during emergencies, the First Responder Network Authority announced on Tuesday.
In addition to prioritizing the communications of primary users like firefighters, police, emergency medical services, emergency managers and dispatch, “ruthless’ preemption services shift non-emergency communications to a secondary line when a primary line becomes crowded.
“As a first responder on 9/11, I experienced the communications challenges that can happen in large emergencies as networks become congested and overwhelmed,” Richard Bowers, the fire and rescue chief in Fairfax County, Virginia, said. “Now, with the launch of preemption on FirstNet, for the first time, public safety is ensured a ‘fast lane’ to connect. FirstNet will provide reliability, confidence and ability for first responders to be able to communicate during emergency operations. Virginia was first in to opt in, and we’re all in to ensure emergency communications are seamless for first responders.”
First responders using the nationwide public safety broadband network can use preemption for voice and text messages, images, videos, location information and transmitting data from apps in real time.
“First responders have been very clear about their immediate need for preemption,” Chris Sambar, the senior vice president, AT&T-FirstNet, said. “During the collaborative conversations that shaped our FirstNet plan, preemption continually topped the list of mission-critical tools first responders wanted to see first on the network. So, we promised to make it available by the end of the year. And we’re proud to honor that commitment. This is game-changing for first responders, and as far as we know, this is the first-ever launch of preemption at this scale in the world.”
Preemption will be immediately available in FirstNet opt-in states at no additional charge. Opt-out states, however, will not have access to preemption capabilities until an alternate plan is approved and Band 14 is deployed.
“The launch of preemption is a tremendous achievement for public safety personnel — who have asked for, fought for and needed this solution for years,” First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth said. “We are pleased that FirstNet is the first broadband network to deliver this capability to public safety.”