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FirstNet Authority Provides Update on Nashville Bombing

On Christmas morning, a motorhome packed with explosives detonated directly in front of the AT&T central office facility in Nashville. The bombing resulted in an outage that affected the Internet, phone, and wireless services of all major carriers, including FirstNet, in the local area as well the wider region. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) has been working closely with AT&T and local, state, and federal officials following the attack. Based upon initial analysis, it appears the FirstNet network infrastructure was not directly impacted by the explosion, and service continued operating on temporary battery power in the hours immediately following the event. However, because the bomb destroyed two local water mains, backup power generators were flooded and inoperable, and there was insufficient time to reroute all services before backup batteries were exhausted.

As the incident unfolded, AT&T recovery resources and the dedicated fleet of FirstNet deployable network assets came online and provided critical connectivity to FirstNet users in affected areas. FirstNet deployable assets arrived on the scene less than five hours after the blast, and local FirstNet services were restored within four hours after batteries were exhausted, supporting multiple agencies that were responding to the events on the ground. These assets function like self-contained mobile cell towers and link to FirstNet via satellite, providing service to first responders as well as other authorized users.

The FirstNet Authority remains in close contact with AT&T and has already initiated an in-depth review of how the network performed during this extraordinary attack on an important node of the Nation’s communications infrastructure.  

FirstNet Authority Board Chair Tip Osterthaler said: “The purpose of FirstNet is to provide connectivity to first responders regardless of conditions or circumstances, and that places a heavy burden on the Authority and AT&T, the service provider, to deliver the most resilient network achievable. As we absorb the lessons learned from this attack, we will adjust our risk management and investment strategies as appropriate to deal with the changing threat environment. We are thankful that the only fatality from the bomb was apparently the bomber, and we are also thankful for the first responders, utility crews, and AT&T personnel who rushed to the scene on Christmas morning in order to protect lives and property and restore services.”

 

About the First Responder Network Authority

The FirstNet Authority is an independent entity within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Created in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at FirstNet.gov/media kit and follow the FirstNet Authority (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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Ryan Oremland