FirstNet Partners with AT&T to Build $46.5 Billion Wireless Broadband Network for America’s First Responders

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has announced the selection of AT&T to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to America’s first responders. This record-breaking public-private partnership is a significant investment in the communications infrastructure that public safety desperately needs for day-to-day operations, disaster response and recovery, and securing of large events. It will also make 20 MHz of prime broadband spectrum available for private-sector development.

“Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and shows the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships, said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure. This public-private partnership will also spur innovation and create over ten thousand new jobs in this cutting-edge sector.”

The broad terms of this 25-year agreement between FirstNet and AT&T are:

  • FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the Network buildout – FirstNet’s funding was raised from previous FCC spectrum auctions;
  • AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety;
  • Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets, valued at more than $180 billion.

The ability to communicate seamlessly across jurisdictions is critical for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) when securing large events or responding to emergencies and disasters.  In those instances, networks can become overloaded and inaccessible, limiting responders’ use of vital communication technologies, such as smartphones and applications dedicated to public safety services.

That will change with a high-speed network built specifically for the millions of public safety users in all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including those serving rural communities and tribal lands. The Network will modernize first responders’ communications and deliver specialized features that are not available to them on wireless networks today.

“This public-private partnership is a major step forward for the public safety community as we begin building the broadband network they fought for and deserve, said FirstNet Chair Sue Swenson. “FirstNet and AT&T will deliver high-speed connectivity to help millions of first responders operate faster, safer, and more effectively when lives are on the line.”

Chief Douglas Aiken, Executive Director of IMSA, praised the announcement saying “this is a great milestone for public safety.  IMSA has been a part of this effort since it was one of three associations that established the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), the entity that was awarded the original nationwide 10 MHz license that started what eventually became FirstNet”.  Aiken serves on the FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), representing the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) and on several task groups that have developed policy for the operation of the network.  Chief Paul Szoc represents IMSA on the PSAC.

“This unique partnership brings together FirstNet as the voice of public safety and a global technology team with a proven track record and commitment to public safety, said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. Together, FirstNet and AT&T will move with precision and urgency to deliver this much-needed infrastructure to those who need it the most: our first responders.”

FirstNet addresses a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission regarding communications used by police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. The public safety community advocated for and endorsed passage of legislation for the wireless broadband network.

 

 

 

 

 


 


 
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