FirstNet hits 1.3 million customers, sees accelerated pace of additions

AT&T execs say that the pandemic is building awareness of FirstNet services

FirstNet now has 1.3 million connections, AT&T executives say, which reflects a 30% increase from the 1 million that the carrier reported in December.

FirstNet is now serving around 12,000 agencies, according to AT&T, up from the 10,000 that were FirstNet customers as of early December.

On the carrier’s recent quarterly call with investors, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson discussed the overall network impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the affects on FirstNet specifically.

“We are seeing unprecedented volumes of voice calls, text, video streaming, and our network is performing very well. And FirstNet is doing exactly what it was designed to do, provide critical connectivity to our first responders, healthcare providers, governments, military, police, fire, and EMS. The demand from our FirstNet customers has been tremendous,” Stephenson said. “These first responders are the true heroes, and it’s an honor to serve them.”

In a network update over the weekend, AT&T reported that it currently has 29 portable cell sites in operation to boost customers’ capacity or coverage, and that it has deployed more than 57 sites to support pandemic response.

John Stankey, who is currently serving as CEO and will soon take over as CEO from Stephenson, said in remarks on the quarterly call that AT&T is “going great guns on FirstNet” and that the pandemic is creating additional demand from first responders and secondary responders.

“You look at the volumes of what’s occurred in the last couple of weeks in the first responder community, and some of the awareness that’s been building around what the offering is on that product and service and the awareness that’s driving it, we are going to get tailwinds from that as well and continued great performance,” Stankey said. “We are now over 1.3 million devices connected to that network and we are seeing that pace accelerate over the last several weeks. And so, not that I am enamored with the pandemic, but it has helped that product category and the awareness of that product category.”

AT&T has also been doing its part to boost awareness and adoption of its service among medical personnel responding to the pandemic. The carrier has begun offering three free months of service for new or existing FirstNet customers who are doctors or nurses.

In a recent blog post, Jason Porter, senior vice president for FirstNet-AT&T, noted that “FirstNet is first and foremost for our country’s first responders. But we also recognize the importance of the extended public safety community that could be called on to help support them. That’s why we review each type of extended user before approving their use of the FirstNet network. From tree trimming crews who clear the way for rescue missions and recovery efforts following major natural disasters, to the nurses and physicians working tirelessly to treat patients. Ultimately, each FirstNet subscriber aligns with the public safety mission, helping to create one, cohesive operating picture across all involved, centralizing information and catalyzing response.”

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