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The U.S. Air Force has selected FirstNet to provide priority communications and preemption for first responders on 15 bases nationwide.

The actual bases were not disclosed. The agreement, which was struck between FirstNet and the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC), will run for 21 years—the remaining life of the public-private partnership between the carrier and the government.

The agreement provides the Air Force with preemption across LTE-Band 14, which operates nationwide, and all of AT&T’s commercial LTE spectrum bands. The Air Force also will have access to FirstNet’s 5G core and to more than 100 land-based and airborne portable cell sites at no extra charge.

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Coordination among first responders and other personnel is a big issue during emergencies. FirstNet is interoperable with land mobile radio assets and off-base first responders. The agreement will enable on- and off-base personnel to communicate during an incident. FirstNet supports voice, data and streaming.

“We aim to be the network provider of choice as the Air Force moves more deliberately toward consuming advanced communications capabilities,” Lance Spencer, Client Executive Vice President – Defense, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet, said in a press release. “It’s an honor to deliver FirstNet to support base personnel and first responders to help ensure the safety of each base and its surrounding community.”

In August, FirstNet announced three upgrades. It expanded its 5G connectivity to five Texas cities — Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso and Houston as well as Raleigh and Charlotte, NC; Cleveland, Knoxville, TN and Phoenix.

At the time, FirstNet also announced the deployment of MetaRange, which it says improves connectivity at the edge of the network and elsewhere. It also announced interoperability between FirstNet and AT&T ESInet, which gives public safety answering points (PSAP) the ability to support images and large files, along with better data and information.

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