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FirstNet debuts ruthless preemption for first responders

The mission-critical feature allows responders to communicate in situations where networks could become congested


By EMS1 Staff

RESTON, Va. — FirstNet announced the release of the ruthless preemption feature for first responders.

The highly anticipated, mission-critical feature allows responders who subscribe to FirstNet to communicate during emergency situations or large events that would otherwise result in congested networks.

"As a first responder on 9/11, I experienced the communications challenges that can happen in large emergencies as networks become congested and overwhelmed," Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Bowers said. "Now, with the launch of preemption on FirstNet, for the first time, public safety is ensured a 'fast lane' to connect. FirstNet will provide reliability, confidence and ability for first responders to be able to communicate during emergency operations. Virginia was first in to opt in, and we're all in to ensure emergency communications are seamless for first responders."

Preemption aims to give responders' access to FirstNet 24/7/365. When the network becomes congested, non-emergency traffic is shifted to another line, giving responders more space to communicate.

"First responders have been very clear about their immediate need for preemption. During the collaborative conversations that shaped our FirstNet plan, preemption continually topped the list of mission-critical tools first responders wanted to see first on the network," AT&T – FirstNet senior vice president Chris Sambar said. "So, we promised to make it available by the end of the year. And we're proud to honor that commitment. This is game-changing for first responders, and as far as we know, this is the first-ever launch of preemption at this scale in the world."

The use of preemption will come at no extra cost to existing subscribers.

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