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FirstNet Broadband Network Serves N.C. First Responders for Five Years

In November 2017, North Carolina became one of the first states to connect to FirstNet. Over five years later it has become critical in maintaining communication for first responders during disasters and other large-scale events.

FirstTech Director Red Grasso and PBS North Carolina Chief Technology Officer Fred Engel accept the 2022 Institute of Electrical and Electric Engineers Broadcast Technology Society best paper award.

N.C. Department of Information Technology Secretary Jim Weaver joined Governor Roy Cooper, N.C. Department of Public Safety Secretary Eddie M. Buffaloe Jr. and other partners to mark the fifth anniversary of FirstNet in North Carolina. The event was held at the new Chatham County Emergency Operations Center in Pittsboro on June 22.

FirstNet is the first nationwide broadband network specifically built for public safety agencies. It allows first responders to maintain communication during disasters and other large-scale events that could disable or disrupt other communication channels.

In November 2017, North Carolina became one of the first states to connect to FirstNet. It was established by Congress in 2012 based on a recommendation from the federal 9/11 Commission. The network is built by AT&T in partnership with the FirstNet Authority, an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

First responders in more than 350 communities across North Carolina are now connected to FirstNet, and the FirstNet Authority’s licensed spectrum has been added to more than 1,700 tower sites throughout the state. FirstNet also offers a dedicated fleet of more than 150 deployable assets to support first responders.
“We are very fortunate to have this type of capability to be able to deploy across our state when the time does come,” Secretary Weaver said.

During the event, Secretary Weaver also highlighted the work of NCDIT’s First Responder Emerging Technologies program, known as FirstTech. Comprised of former first responders who can provide operational insight and expertise, the FirstTech team helps North Carolina stay on the cutting edge of new technologies, including FirstNet.