AT&T, FirstNet prepped for NFL championship

AT&T and FirstNet are ready as fans and first responders gear up for this Sunday’s NFL championship.

While in-person attendance will be limited this year for Super Bowl LV, the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is still set to be filled around 30% capacity, with 7,500 first responders who’ve been invited to attend, according to AT&T.

Dedicated FirstNet Band 14 spectrum has been deployed throughout Tampa, AT&T said, including at the stadium where the Kansas City Chiefs are going up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Four temporary COWs (Cell on Wheels) are in place to handle additional capacity for both fans and first responders. Two temporary FirstNet COLTs (Cell on Light Truck) have been stationed for extra redundancy in case of an emergency.   

RELATED: AT&T’s mmWave 5G takes off at Tampa airport

Verizon also has said it’s working closely with the Tampa Police Department to provide deployable assets and boost capacity for public safety as needed.

Since AT&T won the FirstNet contract in 2017, the carrier has been making inroads in the public safety sector historically dominated by Verizon. AT&T built out the dedicated first responder network and communications platform in a public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority, with more than 15,000 agencies signed on for FirstNet service as of Q4

When it comes to Tampa network enhancements ahead of game day, AT&T invested $75 million at several sites in the market over the last 18 months. AT&T’s lower-band flavor of 5G is available across the Tampa and Tampa International Airport was the first to be outfitted with the carrier’s ‘5G+’ service, using millimeter wave spectrum in the 39 GHz band. T-Mobile deployed 39 GHz spectrum for 5G at Tampa International and other popular places in the Tampa Bay area.

RELATED: T-Mobile turns on 2.5 GHz, 39 GHz ahead of Super Bowl LV

AT&T’s mmWave 5G service can also be found at four additional locations at and near this weekend’s big game with access inside the Raymond James Stadium and parking lot; downtown Tampa including the Riverfront and Channel District; and Busch Gardens amusement park.

AT&T installed new or upgraded distributed antenna systems (DAS) in place at 32 indoor locations, covering practice facilities, hotels, and first responder offices, among others.

“Our team in Tampa has spent the last 18 months enhancing our network to give our customers, whether they live in Tampa or are visiting the area, the best wireless experience,” said JR Luna, VP/GM, AT&T Florida. 

RELATED: Verizon makes $80M investment leading up to Super Bowl LV

Like in years past, network improvements – other than temporary deployable assets – will remain in place.

And AT&T isn’t the only carrier bolstering its network ahead of the Super Bowl. Verizon and T-Mobile each touted network enhancements in Tampa and Raymond James Stadium.

During last year’s championship Verizon ran advertising focused on 5G and public safety, while this year T-Mobile confirmed it has airtime Sunday during Super Bowl LV.