AT&T FirstNet Migration
Updated: Jun 1
In 2021, the Boulder Police Department was part of the City of Boulder's cellular plan, getting their service from Verizon Wireless. In March of 2021, the City of Boulder experienced multiple large scale events, including the March 6th University Hill Riots. These incidents highlighted a weakness in the service and connectivity Verizon was able to provide during times of high demand on cell tower infrastructure. The result was that many officers and department staff were unable to effectively communicate and upload data using their wireless devices.
In response to these issues, the Boulder Police Department elected to begin exploring other wireless carriers, and more specifically, FirstNet, provided by AT&T.
FirstNet is a government program in which AT&T was selected to operate. Essentially, first responders on the FirstNet program get their service from AT&T and receive a specialized SIM card which identifies first responder devices on the network. FirstNet devices then get priority access to the network.
Over a three month period, I worked with City of Boulder staff, AT&T and FirstNet to test network coverage in the City of Boulder. This included deploying multiple cellphones and also migrating a small set of CradlePoints from Verizon to AT&T. This allowed users to test the coverage of the AT&T network. Data was collected from the users and maps were generated which compared the network strength of AT&T to Verizon.
At the conclusion of the testing, AT&T was found to have more reliable network coverage in the City of Boulder. The next phase of the process was to complete a financial analysis on what it would cost to switch the Boulder Police Department to AT&T and what on-going expenses would be, as compared to the current plans on Verizon.
The Boulder Police Department had approximately 350 lines of service with Verizon, this included hot spots, cellphones, tablets, computers and CradlePoints. Each of these devices were either on an unlimited cellphone plan or unlimited data plan.
This included researching what the problems with the current network were and what options were available to the Boulder Police Department. In addition, a complete audit was done of every signal line of service associated with the police department. This led to thousands of dollars in savings, as multiple accounts had been activated and were either not in use or were being minimally used.
What is the current price of service and what fees to transfer service.
All of this data was compiled into a set of three proposals, which were presented to the Chief of Police and then to the City Manager's Office. These proposals were eventually reviewed and approved by executive staff.
Phase One - CradlePoints
The City of Boulder Police Department utilizes CradlePoints to provided network access and connectivity to multiple devices in every patrol vehicle. This includes:
- Mobile Digital Computer (MDC): Panasonic ToughBooks
- Axon Fleet 1 & Fleet 2 in car camera systems
The process of replacing each CradlePoint meant that every patrol vehicle would have to be temporarily out of service. I created a schedule to minimize the impact of patrol officers and coordinated vehicles to be worked on when they were otherwise not in use. This was a four day process to complete this process in approximately 52 patrol vehicles.
Phase Two - Mobile Devices
The next phase included creating an inventory of every mobile device owned by the department and meeting with stakeholders to determine what devices needed to be replaced, cancelled or upgraded. I then worked with staff to create a schedule for every employee to turn in their new device and get set up on a new AT&T device. This was a multi-week process and included hosting multiple representatives from AT&T to help with the physical device transfer.
If you have questions about AT&T, FirstNet, or are looking for assistance in implementing a carrier migration, BlueGovTech is happy to assistance in each phase of your project.