Major carrier AT&T has announced that it is finally ready to begin the launch of a dedicated network core for its FirstNet network, with separate network equipment from the company's commercial network. AT&T has termed this new network core the evolved packet core, due to a number of features not present on the network core that's used for the firm's normal commercial network. The evolved packet core being opened up for business this week has been in development for a year, being worked on constantly ever since AT&T first won the contract for FirstNet on a nationwide basis.
FirstNet's evolved packet core is different from the core used in the consumer network in that it enables prioritization for first responders in emergency situations over others using the network. While FirstNet subscribers can jump on the network at any time, first responders who are in an active emergency response situation will receive priority over others in the same area who may simply be patrolling or sitting at the station or hospital. The network core is also able to process public safety data on the fly, making it easier for first responders to get the information that they need as soon as possible. Finally, it serves as a base from which AT&T plans to build out an interoperable network that will enable subscribers and non-subscribers to communicate and share data on a priority basis as needed.
This new network core represents everything that FirstNet is about, and now that it's ready, subscribers who have been enjoying priority above civilians on AT&T's normal network will finally be able to use a dedicated network just for them and their peers, making all sorts of communications and operations faster, easier, and less likely to run into bugs. A lot of relevant data processing and relaying happens automatically on the network thanks to the inclusion of processing solutions, essentially forming a cloud that's limited to first responders' needs. Ongoing buildout will focus on expanding and strengthening this network, as well as tying it into compatible solutions outside of FirstNet to allow reliable and consistent communications and data flow no matter where FirstNet subscribers may go or who they may work with.