AT&T Continues Boosting Its Communication Network for First Responders With an Executive Promotion

Jason Porter, a nearly two-decade veteran of AT&T, will now lead the corporation's public sector and FirstNet business arm. AT&T is continually expanding FirstNet, the nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. It currently covers 99 percent of of the U.S. population—but AT&T says it isn't stopping until every first responder has the connectivity and modern communications tools they require in an emergency.

Dallas-headquartered telecom giant AT&T has appointed a new executive to helm its public sector and FirstNet business arm, Jason Porter.

In his new role, Porter will lead a group that includes AT&T’s government solutions and all federal, state, and local government and education customers. He’s an 18-year veteran of the corporation, according to his LinkedIn, and will continue to lead AT&T’s FirstNet business—billed as “America’s public safety network”—as its president.

Porter has held a number of leadership roles during his tenure at AT&T. Through positions in its chief data office, network and technology planning, and cybersecurity, he has built a reputation for introducing and maturing emerging technologies, transforming businesses, and serving AT&T’s vast customer base.

But before that, Porter served in the Army as an armor officer, leading a tank platoon and mortar platoon, according to a statement.

Today, Porter uses that experience to power innovation in public safety and serve first responders.

“For nearly two decades at AT&T, my goal has always been to harness the power of technology to make people’s lives better,” he writes on his LinkedIn. “Today, as I take on the FirstNet mission with my talented team, I am fortunate to help deliver that same level of innovation to serve the first responders who serve our country every day.”

His responsibilities at AT&T have included delivering on the 25-year public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority, which was established by Congress in 2012. When AT&T got involved as a network partner, it represented the largest government contract to ever be awarded to a telecommunications provider, according to a statement.

AT&T’s FirstNet is dedicated to providing first responders with advanced communications capabilities. In recent years, the corporation has made a push to bring the business into the future—deploying various tools to public safety agencies and first responders that caters to their needs and allows them to quickly get information to make better, on-the-spot decisions.

According to AT&T, FirstNet’s mission is to “deploy, operate, maintain, and improve the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.” By providing a reliable, interoperable public safety communications platform, law enforcement, fire service, and EMS are able to do their jobs safely and effectively.

The initiative stems from communications challenges that arose during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to AT&T. At the time, the 9/11 Commission recommended that a single, interoperable network specifically for public safety be established.

That’s where AT&T comes in: The FirstNet network is designed for public safety, by public safety, a first for the American telecommunications history, the corporation says. FirstNet collaborates with local, state/territory, tribal, and federal public safety agencies across the U.S. to gain input on the creation of the network and continue helping public safety save lives.

Today, FirstNet serves more than 15,000 agencies and organizations as subscribers. This month, AT&T announced that the network reached more than 2.71 million square miles of coverage, which would “boost capacity and drive new capabilities” for rural, urban, and tribal communities.

That was achieved by adding around 100,000 square miles to FirstNet’s footprint in 2020.

But AT&T doesn’t plan on stopping there. Though FirstNet covers more than 99 percent of the U.S. population, AT&T said that it will continue to actively expand its reach to give every first responder access.

Also last year, AT&T publicly announced its plans to build upon current and future investments in Dallas, which includes FirstNet. 

The plans were outlined in four main areas: purpose-built network enhancements, public safety-specific advanced capabilities, unparalleled emergency support, and free smartphones for life for public safety agencies.

AT&T boosted the FirstNet network with Band 14 spectrum—a national high-quality spectrum set aside by the government specifically for FirstNet—across Dallas. Agencies in Dallas that are on FirstNet have 24/7 access to a fleet of 76 deployable network assets at no additional charge.

FirstNet also gives public safety officials in Dallas access to a communication ecosystem full of mission-centric devices, certified applications, and more.

“2020 made it clearer than ever before how critical it is for first responders to have the tools and wireless infrastructure they need to communicate with each other wherever their mission takes them,” Porter said in a statement. “Now tens of thousands of towns and cities have access to FirstNet, bringing America’s public safety community the only network built to their strict specifications and requirements.”

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