5G for first responders is the foundation for rapid response and innovation
On Mondays, minutes seem to tick by unhurriedly. Minutes whiz by on a rollercoaster and move sluggishly on the treadmill. With such varied perceptions, what’s the real potential of a minute? The FCC estimates that over 10,000 lives could be saved each year if first responders were able to reach callers just one minute faster. For Verizon Frontline and AT&T FirstNet, 5G may be the key to closing in on that minute.
What does 5G mean for Verizon Frontline vs. FirstNet?
The discussion about 5G for public safety is really a discussion about integrating critical existing and future technologies with a robust network, regardless of whether first responders are using Frontline or FirstNet. Today, these networks solve for the common and long-standing communications challenges that first responders face — things like interoperability, network congestion, and coverage.
5G devices provide first responders with the coverage they expect and the performance they need for day-to-day responses and life-saving missions, touting characteristics such as:
During an emergency, network reaction time is just as important as physical reaction time. Latency can impact the quickness of a surveillance camera’s reaction to motion, AI-assisted review of video footage for security and police, and more. For Frontline and FirstNet, 5G brings low latency to help first responders operate proactively and mitigate risk.
The 5G spectrum can handle an exceptionally high volume of traffic — a characteristic that is especially important during a widespread emergency. Depending on the type of 5G, the bandwidth may increase while propagation decreases.
Massive IoT scale
Especially within the context of smart cities, sensors and IoT devices in 5G connected vehicles play a significant role in public safety’s ability to reach destinations quickly, and transmit and monitor a variety of vital information, including vehicle and patient status. The bandwidth and latency afforded by 5G means dozens to thousands of endpoints can be added to a network without risking reduced performance.
Security by design
5G security characteristics enable agencies to disable unused interfaces, encrypt data in transit, and implement firewall rules based on use case, all of which improve the security of mission-critical and sensitive data transmission by first responders. IT teams can further improve end-to-end security of the network with zero trust principles.
For location-based routing to be effective in delivering a 911 call to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), locations must be calculated in five seconds or less, with a high degree of accuracy. Combined with the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), 5G architecture has the potential to pinpoint locations within feet in record time.
Does AT&T FirstNet have 5G?
In spring 2021, AT&T announced the launch of FirstNet and 5G. To gain access to the network’s 5G spectrum, a wireless router must be FirstNet and 5G certified. While most FirstNet routers — including Cradlepoint’s R1900 and W1850 — are compatible with 5G, they must also pass a series of security validations and lab, field, and application tests to be certified as FirstNet Ready.
To demonstrate the capabilities of FirstNet and 5G, AT&T outfitted a fleet of 50 vehicles with FirstNet Ready Cradlepoint R1900 Series 5G Ruggedized Routers to provide 5G and Gigabit LTE connectivity, as well as Ethernet and Wi-Fi. In doing so, FirstNet was able to demonstrate the benefits of a mobile office environment with interoperable communications, vehicle telematics, and advanced location support.
Supporting 5G for first responders with Verizon Frontline
Verizon is known for its massive spectrum holding that’s capable of moving large amounts of traffic at high speeds, allowing first responders to make decisions in real time and effectively utilize the applications they need.
In June 2022, the Verizon Frontline Response Team debuted its first Mobile Utility Technology Transport (MUTT) — a connected police cruiser showcasing how first responders can leverage the Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network (a combination of mmWave and C-band 5G) with additional network and computing solutions to advance the capabilities of emergency response. These solutions included Cradlepoint’s R1900 router, which provides a highly reliable and secure in-vehicle network that is not only simple to install, but also allows users to access bandwidth across two or more WAN connections.
How Frontline, FirstNet, and 5G enable more than vehicles
All first responder networks are committed to keeping public safety agencies response-ready via reliable, secure coverage. While many use cases for Frontline and FirstNet are centered on in-vehicle solutions, it’s important to recognize the extended use cases that also fall under the umbrella of these networks — all of which can take advantage of the benefits of 5G — including:
- Wireless failover to complement wireline solutions at fire stations, police stations, and emergency call centers.
- Connectivity for compact rapid deployables, mobile command centers, and pop-ups including mass triage sites, wildland fire management sites, and backup call centers.
- Mitigation, clean-up, and restoration of locations following an incident such as a natural disaster.