Pennsylvania To Transform Communications for Public Safety

I’d like to share some exciting and historic news with you. Gov. Tom Wolf today announced that he accepted the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to Pennsylvania’s public safety community. Pennsylvania is the most recent state to opt in to FirstNet, bringing advanced technologies that will help first responders save lives and protect communities.

Read more below.

We’ve appreciated the chance to work with the Governor’s team, public safety leaders statewide, and state legislators to address their questions and craft a strong plan for Pennsylvania. We look forward to working with the public safety community and leaders statewide to create an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications.


J. Michael Schweder
President — AT&T Mid-Atlantic

Governor Wolf approves buildout plan for First Responder Network
First-of-its-Kind Solution Will Create Jobs, Spur Investment and Modernize
Public Safety Communications across Pennsylvania

Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced his decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T* plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public safety community. FirstNet will bring advanced technologies that will help Pennsylvania’s first responders save lives and protect communities.

“When an emergency strikes, Pennsylvania first responders are called upon to handle the situation and support the community,” Governor Wolf said. “As we have learned from recent events in many parts of the country, a vital component needed for coordinating a response is the ability for all responders on the scene to share information as events unfold.”

AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Pennsylvania’s public safety community at no cost to the state. The FirstNet network will drive innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders.

Following an in-depth evaluation of the proposed AT&T and FirstNet plan, as well as proposals by other potential vendors, Pennsylvania selected the FirstNet and AT&T public-private partnership, bringing public safety the overall best value solution with the least risk.

FirstNet will transform the way Pennsylvania’s fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. Specifically, it will:


Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events.


Create an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state when responding to natural disasters that occur all year in Pennsylvania, such as severe winter storms, tornadoes, high winds and flooding.


Enhance and expand network coverage along Pennsylvania’s vast areas of mountains, farmland and forests to cover areas that are today underserved. This will benefit first responders and residents throughout the state’s rural areas.


Provide first responders with access to dedicated network assets that can be deployed for additional coverage and support when needed.


Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.


FirstNet and AT&T designed Pennsylvania’s network solution with direct input from the state’s public safety community. FirstNet has been meeting with Pennsylvania’s officials and public safety personnel for several years to address their unique communication needs. These include:

Improving coverage and making deployables readily available in less populated areas.

Providing modern communications tools at affordable costs to help first responders operate safer and more effectively.

Making Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solutions available to public safety volunteers.

Giving public safety agencies local control to adjust user prioritization at the state and incident commander level in response to outages and emergencies.

“Governor Wolf’s decision will deliver innovation and interoperability to first responders in the Keystone State, helping them serve and protect their communities," said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "We are pleased to have delivered the network plan that best meets Pennsylvania's needs and look forward to connecting public safety throughout the Commonwealth."

The administration’s decision to opt in will enable AT&T and FirstNet to begin planning and construction ahead of schedule. This will create a highly secure public safety network for Pennsylvania's first responder subscribers — who will also have priority use and preemption on this network.

Priority access to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network will be immediately available to subscribers. Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means fire, police, EMS and other public safety workers will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it — 24/7/365, like their mission.

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“Today is an historic day for public safety in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said J. Michael Schweder, President of AT&T Mid Atlantic. “I’d like to thank Governor Wolf and his staff for the hard work they put into determining how best to deliver the FirstNet network to first responders and residents in our great state. We’re honored to support the public safety mission here today, and every day for the next 25 years.”

For more information on FirstNet, please visit and For more about the value FirstNet will bring to public safety, please visit

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J. Michael Schweder is President of AT&T Mid Atlantic States. He directs the corporate efforts in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Schweder joined AT&T in 1983 as Director of Public Affairs in Harrisburg, PA. In 1985 he became Regional Director of Government Affairs in AT&T's Washington, D.C office until he moved to Corporate Headquarters in New Jersey in 1996. In 2000 he was named State President for New Jersey. Schweder served three terms as a Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1974-1980), and also served as a Member of Bethlehem, PA City Council (1998-2010). His Council Colleagues elected him President of City Council three times. He serves on numerous boards across the Mid Atlantic region, including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce , New Jersey Business and Industry Association and the New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company. In 1971 he received a BA degree in Political Science from Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, and completed the executive education program in business at the University of Michigan in 1987. He resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife Annette.

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