When shopping for smartphones and tablets, FirstNet was looking for something that could handle more than calling an Uber and snapping the perfect selfie. The nationwide public safety broadband network needed something rugged, built for first responders, and ready for any crisis situation. With its intended user in mind, the First Responder Network Authority Device Team got to work. After carefully testing a wide variety of devices, FirstNet released its first approved device list.

Here are the 17 smartphones and tablets that made the cut:

  • Apple iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X
  • Apple iPad and iPad Pro
  • Netgear MR1100-330
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, S8, and S8+
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
  • Sonim XP8 and XP5s

FirstNet, a public-private partnership between AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority, used a device approval program built on AT&T’s standards-based wireless device testing and certification program to develop its list.

“We’ve taken a number of devices through the FirstNet Device Approval Program,” explained Joe Martinet, director of devices for FirstNet. “In completing this first round of the program, the First Responder Network Authority has recommended to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research Division a list of user devices approved to be used on the FirstNet network.”

NIST is responsible for maintaining the approved device list under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the legislation that established FirstNet.

FirstNet expects to approve additional devices as the build out of the network continues.

“We’ve repeatedly heard from first responders at all levels about their need for a wide variety of user devices: commercial, ruggedized, and functional devices to support their respective lifesaving missions,” said Martinet.

The approved device list comes on the heels of a busy few months for FirstNet. Last month AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority launched the FirstNet network core. With the launch, first responders now have nationwide access to a specialized communications system designed to meet their unique needs. In February, FirstNet announced new board members, including Robert Osterthaler, a consultant and strategic advisor; Richard J. Ross, Jr., Philadelphia police commissioner; and David Zolet, CEO of LMI.

With a lineup of new options on FirstNet, the contract’s moving beyond the usual suspects on the thin- blue line.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs