AT&T Expects to Receive Final FirstNet Buildout Reimbursements in 2022
Wednesday, March 09, 2022 | Comments

AT&T said in its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it expects to collect the remainder of the $6.5 billion it can receive under its contract with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) in 2022.

In the report, AT&T said it had received approximately $5.86 billion in reimbursements for hitting milestones in building out and operating the FirstNet network. The company said it anticipates that it will collect the rest of that money this year. Once AT&T meets milestones, the FirstNet Authority validates that milestone before reimbursing the carrier.

Under its contract with the FirstNet Authority, AT&T has five years to complete the buildout of the network, which began around March 2018. If the carrier completes the buildout this year, that would complete it several months ahead of its contracted deadline in 2023.

In the report, AT&T also said that during 2021, it submitted $120 million in sustainability payments to the FirstNet Authority. Under the contract, AT&T submits these payments to help fund FirstNet operating expenses and the payments also go toward future reinvestment in the network.

AT&T expects to submit sustainability payments of $195 million in 2022, 2023 and 2024. The company said that in 2021, it received $170 million back from the FirstNet Authority for reinvestment back into the network.

The carrier also noted in its report that it is watching a court of appeals case over an FCC declaratory ruling that clarified the limit on state and local authority to deny applications to modify existing structures to accommodate wireless facilities.

If the ruling is upheld following appeals, it could remove state and local regulatory barriers that would reduce the costs of deploying infrastructure needed for the FirstNet network, as well 5G.

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