AT&T offers US physicians free wireless service on first responder network

Nurses and doctors are being offered three months free on AT&T's FirstNet Mobile Responder plan amid the coronavirus crisis.

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AT&T is giving doctors and nurses three months of free service on its nationwide first responder network amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release. The news was announced by actor John Krasinski on his YouTube show, "Some Good News," on Sunday.  

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

"This week when they found out we'd be honoring our healthcare heroes this episode, AT&T reached out and asked how they could help," Krasinski said at the end of the show. 

"I said, 'Maybe you could cover the cell phone bills of every nurse and doctor in America for a month.' Their response: 'How about three?'" Krasinski said.  

Beginning on Monday, physicians across the US already on the FirstNet Mobile Responder plan, the AT&T LTE connectivity dedicated to first responders, automatically received the three-month service credit. 

New subscribers are also able to gain access on a smartphone or tablet line. The nurses and physicians first signing-on to FirstNet will also get a $200 activation credit when activating a FirstNet Ready smartphone on the FirstNet Mobile Responder plan, according to the release. 

Connectivity during coronavirus 

Coronavirus has sent shock waves through people's personal and professional lives, forcing individuals to work from home, social distance from friends and relatives, and rely on connectivity more than ever. 

Data from AT&T on Sunday directly shows COVID-19's impact on communication. Compared to a similar day at the end of February—before coronavirus really took off in the US—AT&T's core network traffic was up 26% on Saturday. 

On that same day, wireless voice minutes were up 16%, consumer home voice calling minutes were up 43%, and Wi-Fi calling minutes were up 52%, compared to an average Saturday. 

While connectivity is clearly important to consumers, it becomes critical for first responders handling the coronavirus crisis. 

"Data sharing between emergency medical services (EMS) and hospitals is being stress tested as first responders are handing off COVID-19 patients," reported ZDNet's Larry Dignan, emphasizing the importance of connectivity for these providers. 

ESO's dashboard of more than 11,200 records of EMS, fire departments, and hospitals recently determined that the number of responses related to COVID-19 has grown tenfold in the past couple of weeks as more first responders handle the pandemic. 

AT&T also announced it currently has 19 portable FirstNet Network cell sites in operation and have deployed more than 42 during the response to coronavirus. 

How other providers are helping

AT&T isn't the only mobile provider helping those on the front lines of the coronavirus. 

Verizon is working with partners to provide remote connectivity options, call centers, interactive voice response services (IVRs) and conferencing solutions to help healthcare workers and first responders, according to a press release

Verizon is also launching Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), coronavirus mobile testing sites and quarantine areas in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Washington, to increase network capacity at these locations, as stated in the release. 

T-Mobile announced a partnership in March with multiple spectrum holders to add an additional 600 MHz spectrum for the next 60 days to its network capacity. The company is also running a campaign with the Boys & Girls Club to provide child support and meals to first responders

For more, check out Samsung announces video call demonstration to aid first responders on TechRepublic. 

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