AT&T Selected by FirstNet to Build and Manage America’s First Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network

First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) selected AT&T to build and manage the first broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS). The FirstNet network will cover all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including rural communities and tribal lands in those states and territories.

This is a much needed investment in America’s communications infrastructure to support millions of first responders and public safety personnel nationwide who protect and serve more than 320 million people across the U.S. This significant public-private infrastructure investment is expected to create 10,000 U.S. jobs over the next two years from AT&T’s work for FirstNet. The network buildout will begin later this year.

Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, said, “We are honored to work with FirstNet to build a network for America’s police, firefighters and EMS that is second to none. This is an unprecedented public-private investment in infrastructure that makes America a leader and public safety a national priority.”

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that, “Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and shows the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships. 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.”

Today, first responders use commercial networks – the same ones used by consumers and businesses – for mobile data and applications. That can be an issue when a significant public safety crisis happens and commercial networks quickly become congested. It makes it difficult for first responders to communicate, coordinate and do their jobs. Plus, first responders use more than 10,000 networks for voice communications. These networks often do not interoperate, which severely limits their ability to communicate with each other when responding to a situation.

FirstNet’s mission is to fix this. Through this new public-private partnership with FirstNet, AT&T will deliver a dedicated, interoperable network and ecosystem that will give first responders the technology they need to better communicate and collaborate across agencies and jurisdictions – local, state and national.

Kay Kapoor, president, AT&T Global Public Sector added that "There's no connection more important than one that can save a life. FirstNet is unprecedented in its vision, scope and importance to our nation and the future of public safety communications. We’re honored to be selected for this historic and critical initiative.”

“This 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: the first responders we rely on in disasters and emergencies.”

In addition to creating a nationwide seamless, IP-based, high-speed mobile communications network that will give first responders priority access, the network will help:

  • Improve rescue and recovery operations to help keep first responders out of harm’s way
  • Better connect first responders to the critical information they need in an emergency
  • Further the development of public safety focused IoT and Smart City solutions such as providing near real-time information on traffic conditions to determine the fastest route to an emergency
  • Enable advanced capabilities, like wearable sensors and cameras for police and firefighters, and camera-equipped drones and robots that can deliver near real-time images of events, such as fires, floods or crimes

FirstNet and AT&T will innovate and evolve the network to keep the public safety community at the forefront of technology advances. For example, as 5G network capabilities develop in the coming years, FirstNet and AT&T will work together to provide the exponential increases in the speed with which video and data travel across the FirstNet network.

To help FirstNet achieve its public safety mission, AT&T has assembled a team that includes Motorola Solutions, General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting and Inmarsat Government.

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 users.
  • Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets, valued at more than $180 billion.

The strong participation of states in the FirstNet network will help make this significant investment in America’s communications infrastructure a reality. As states join FirstNet, investment in infrastructure and job creation will follow.

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