Tennessee to Transform Communications for Public Safety; Governor Haslam Approves Buildout Plan for First Responder Network

By Stephanie Waye FirstNet, Opt-In, NPSBN With 0 Comments

August 31, 2017

Tennessee is in!

Wireless Communications Director, Arnold Hooper, stated that, “AT&T worked with us in collaboration to ensure that the state plan provided to Tennessee was up to par with what our first responders expect and deserve.” Upon receiving the initial state plan draft in mid-June, the state’s review team worked quickly to inform key stakeholders of the contents of the plan, and conduct multiple meetings with federal FirstNet representatives and AT&T staff. “These meetings were productive and left us knowing that with the promise of AT&T’s sizable investment in Tennessee, opting-in was the right decision for Tennesseans,” said Hooper.
This decision follows three years of diligent outreach and education to the state’s first responder community, reaching, at minimum, one public safety agency in each of the state’s ninety-five counties. The state’s outreach efforts included informing stakeholders about the implications of access to mission-critical broadband, on-site GIS mapping of critical infrastructure and high-response areas, and gathering input from those first responders on potential roadblocks to adoption such as cost and coverage areas. This data was aggregated and submitted to FirstNet for use in developing the state plan for Tennessee. 
The following is an exerpt from the FirstNet press release:
First-of-its-Kind Solution Will Create Jobs, Spur Investment and Modernize Public Safety Communications across the State
RESTON, Va., August 31, 2017 – Tennessee is transforming communications for first responders across the Volunteer State. Governor Bill Haslam accepted the FirstNet and AT&T* plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public safety community. FirstNet will bring advanced technologies that will help Tennessee’s first responders save lives and protect communities.  
AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Tennessee’s public safety community at no cost to the state. The FirstNet network will deliver innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders. 
FirstNet will transform the way Tennessee’s fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. Specifically, it will:
  • Connect first responders to the critical information they need over a reliable, highly secure broadband network when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events, like the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester.
  • Create an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel across jurisdictions during multi-agency responses to natural disasters, like flooding and seasonal wildfires.
  • Enhance network coverage across Tennessee’s diverse landscape, benefitting first responders and residents throughout the state’s rural and tribal areas.
  • Provide first responders with access to dedicated network assets that can be deployed for additional coverage and support when needed.
  • Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.
  • Usher in a new wave of dependable innovations for first responders. This will create an ever-evolving set of life-saving tools for public safety, including public safety apps, specialized devices and Internet of Things technologies. It also carries the potential for future integration with NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities’ infrastructure. 
FirstNet and AT&T designed Tennessee’s network solution with direct input from the state’s public safety community. FirstNet has been meeting with Tennessee’s officials and public safety personnel for several years to address their unique communications needs. This includes:
  • Extending communications and technology in rural areas and state parks designated as emergency staging areas.
  • Preparing for needs arising from the possibility of a major seismic event along the New Madrid fault.
  • Expanding network capacity to accommodate Tennessee’s booming population growth in urban areas. 
“Reliable communications are vital to public safety's life-saving mission," said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "Governor Haslam’s decision will deliver innovation and interoperability to emergency personnel across Tennessee’s diverse landscape – including its rural, mountainous and remote areas, as well as federal lands. FirstNet looks forward to continuing our partnership with Tennessee to ensure the network meets public safety's needs – now and in the future.” 
This decision enables FirstNet and AT&T to begin creating an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications. Tennessee’s first responder subscribers will have immediate access to quality of service and priority to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network.  
Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means fire, police, EMS and other public safety workers will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365, like their mission. 
“We’re honored to bring FirstNet to Tennessee – to its first responders and to its residents, who will ultimately benefit from this one-of-a-kind solution,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T – FirstNet. “By opting in, Governor Haslam is ushering in a new era of public safety for his state. We’re pleased to deliver access to the innovative tools and technology that will give residents and visitors in Tennessee peace of mind knowing their safety is a top priority.” 
FirstNet builds on the nearly $1.2 billion investment AT&T has made in its Tennessee wireless and wired networks over the last 3 years (2014-2016). These investments drive a wide range of upgrades to reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance while improving critical services that support public safety and first responders.