The Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) signed a 25-year contract with AT&T to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network for America’s first responders. The contract follows decades of work by public safety to secure spectrum and the creation of FirstNet through the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012.FirstNet 700 MHz Relocation Process on Track for August Deadline
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Under the agreement, FirstNet will provide 20 megahertz of spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion during the next five years to support the network buildout. FirstNet’s funding was raised from the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS-3) FCC spectrum auction.
The FirstNet network is planned to cover all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including rural communities and tribal lands in those states and territories. Network buildout will begin later this year, an AT&T statement said.
AT&T will spend about $40 billion during 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.
“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.”
The public-private partnership will create more than 10,000 new jobs during the next two years, said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. In addition, FirstNet and AT&T will maximize the resources they bring to the partnership to create a financially self-sustaining network.
Motorola Solutions, General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting and Inmarsat Government are partners on the contract. Motorola will provide public-safety equipment and expertise, and General Dynamics will offer project management and engineering services. Sapient will help with the state portals where states will get their state plans from FirstNet. Inmarsat will offer satellite services and equipment. An AT&T executive said numerous companies will help with the rollout.
“We are honored to work with FirstNet to build a network for America’s police, firefighters and EMS that is second to none,” Stephenson said. “This is an unprecedented public-private investment in infrastructure that makes America a leader and public safety a national priority.”
FirstNet addresses a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission regarding communications used by first responders.
“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.”
Speakers at the signing event in Washington, D.C., included FirstNet Board Vice Chairman Jeff Johnson, Ross, Rep. Greg Walden, FirstNet President TJ Kennedy, Stephenson, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and several public-safety officials.
FirstNet released a request for proposals (RFP) with a $100 billion ceiling last year.
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