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Progress continues with the implementation of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The FirstNet core launched this week, and will help Wisconsin’s first responders have high speed wireless communications for their mobile devices and data terminals.

AT&T, which was selected to implement FirstNet across the U.S., describes the core as the “foundation of the network.” This core or infrastructure is dedicated entirely to public safety and separates public safety traffic from commercial traffic. It also supports current FirstNet functions, including priority and preemption and Quality of Service (QoS). In the future, the core will support mission-critical services to be offered by FirstNet, including push-to-talk and location-based services.

What this means to Wisconsin’s first responders: local public safety agencies will be able to transmit data securely using end-to-end encryption, have access to 24/7/365 security monitoring through a security operations center, and have local control — which allows first responder agencies to boost priority levels when needed to keep their responders connected during emergencies and disasters.

The First Responder Network Authority is currently testing the FirstNet core to validate its overall performance and resiliency. Some select FirstNet users can move to the core as part of a controlled introduction. When the testing phase is over in the April/May timeframe, AT&T will move more FirstNet users to the core.

Local response agencies will be able to verify that they have FirstNet access by simply looking at their cell phone or other mobile device to see “FirstNet” rather than the name of the cellular provider.

Last year, Gov. Scott Walker agreed for the state of Wisconsin to “opt in” to the FirstNet state plan. As part of the agreement, AT&T has agreed to build more communications towers with a focus on rural areas in Wisconsin to help with interoperable communications.

If you have questions or to learn more about the First Responder Network Authority’s public safety programs, please visit

Any interoperability program questions can be directed to Office of Emergency Communications at or 608-888-5501. To receive the updates, please subscribe at