All FirstNet users will have their own dedicated subscriber identification module (SIM) card that can be inserted into an LTE device to gain access to FirstNet services and functionality. While the Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ and the Sonim XP8 and XP5s smartphones—as well as the NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile router, which establishes a mobile hotspot—will accept FirstNet SIM cards natively, while other devices may require additional steps, according to AT&T.

“Some users may need to perform a software update on their device before making the change whereas others may need to perform a configuration change on their device,” Sambar said in a statement provided to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “Whatever is needed, we will help make the process for public safety quick and easy.”  

Multiple public-safety officials expressed excitement about the launch of the FirstNet core.

“This is what public safety has spent years advocating for,” Scott Edson, executive director for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communication System (LA-RICS), said in a prepared statement. “We knew giving first responders a network that they could truly call their own was possible from our work on LA-RICS—one of five FirstNet early-builder projects.

“But to see public safety’s network core roar to life nationwide, well, there are no words for how meaningful that is. We at LA-RICS look forward to connecting our sites to the FirstNet network core.”

Chris Kirk, sheriff of Brazos County, Texas, echoed this sentiment.

“We’ve been transitioning to FirstNet to take advantage of our network—a network designed for and being built just for us,” Kirk said in a prepared statement. “And we’ve already seen the tremendous difference FirstNet can make in helping us cut through the clutter and get access to the vital information we need to keep ourselves and those we protect out of harm’s way.

“That was before the launch of the FirstNet network core. So, we’re expecting it to only get better from here, which we believe will continue to improve our operations.”

Ed Davis, a former Boston police commissioner, also expressed support for the FirstNet deployment news.

“Outdated communications capabilities are a threat to public safety. We’ve seen it repeatedly when disasters strike – from September 11, the Boston Marathon and Parkland,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “We’ve been advocating for the future of communications to bring us a modern solution that will empower us with next-generation tools. And with FirstNet, that future is here, giving us an experience we can’t get on any commercial network.

“Those on the front lines can now evolve the way we communicate, using mission-critical text and data on top of voice to ensure we are connected to as much information as possible to achieve our missions. Because the more connected we can be, the more protected we can be.”