Tennessee to integrate FirstNet with AT&T ESInet for All 9-1-1 call centres statewide

January 30, 2023

Posted by: Janmesh Chintankar

When a crisis hits, we all know what to do: Call 9-1-1. That’s why 9-1-1 call centres need to be dependable and prepared for circumstances that might interrupt their data connections. For the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, that means ensuring the state’s 118 primary public safety answering points (PSAPs) or 9-1-1 call centres have backups in place in the event their primary fibre connections are disrupted for any reason, says Jim Bugel, president of the FirstNet Program, AT&T and Curtis S. Sutton, executive director, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board.

It’s why this year, Tennessee has embarked upon a plan to fully back up every one of its 9-1-1 call centres with AT&T ESInet and FirstNet – America’s public safety network – to increase their reliability and resiliency. This is a major step forward for public safety as Tennessee leads the way to become the first state in the nation to implement full wireless backup through FirstNet, Built with AT&T to all 9-1-1 call centres statewide. Wireless backup means that even during the toughest strains and worst-case scenarios, network connectivity will be available so that every Tennessean can know that 9-1-1 telecommunicators will answer their call.

How does it work? If AT&T ESInet detects a disruption to the primary 9-1-1 call centre connections, it will automatically re-route 9-1-1 calls over the FirstNet network, ensuring they are answered.

Knox County, Tennessee became the first in the state to activate its FirstNet backup in November. We worked very closely with the Knox County Emergency Communications District to help ensure the transition was a seamless experience and the additional connections are working reliably.

“Beginning with the first steps of project management all the way through implementation, the AT&T team worked well with our internal team to upgrade our connections,” says Brad Anders, director, Knox County Emergency Communications District. “We were engaged at every level of the process and the transition was very smooth. Since implementation, we have not had any issues with the upgraded connections.”

For Tennessee 9-1-1 call centres, migrating to AT&T ESInet means greater capacity to support elevated call volumes, increased interoperability among agencies, advanced reporting solutions to help increase operational effectiveness, and more reliability than ever.

This is a crucial milestone for public safety in Tennessee and it’s also only the beginning. As new technology emerges, we plan to continue to work together to continue to evolve 9-1-1 call centres in Tennessee, so they’re equipped with advanced technology to keep communities safe.

Curtis Sutton of Tennessee Emergency Communications Board

Jim Bugel of FirstNet Program and AT&T

Plans are in place to have every Tennessee PSAP operating with FirstNet as its AT&T ESInet wireless backup by June of 2023, ensuring that every Tennessean can rely on this level of security and dependability should they ever need to pick up the phone to call 9-1-1.

The authors are Jim Bugel, president of the FirstNet Program, AT&T and Curtis S. Sutton, executive director, Tennessee Emergency Communications Board.

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