AT&T Expects to Hit 60%, 80% FirstNet Buildout Milestones 6 Months Ahead of Schedule
Friday, May 31, 2019 | Comments

An AT&T executive said the company expects to hit its next two First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) buildout milestones at least six months in advance.

The company plans to meet the 60% band 14 buildout milestone in the third quarter of this year, said Scott Mair, president of operations for AT&T, at the Cowen Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. AT&T’s contract with the FirstNet Authority requires the company to complete 60% of the buildout by March 2020.

Meeting that milestone will make AT&T eligible for a $1 billion reimbursement from the FirstNet Authority, said Mair.

As for the next milestone, Mair said that AT&T expects to hit the 80% buildout more than six months ahead of the date required in the contract, which is March 2021.

When pressed by moderator Colby Alexander Synesal of Cowen about whether the buildout could potentially be completed in 2020, Mair said he couldn’t commit to that timing. “So, I’m not ready to say the end of year 2020, right?” Mair said. “It’s really a five-year contract; we’re in year two. I have high confidence we’re going to finish that build early, but I’m not ready to commit to it’s going to be 2020.”

Synesal noted that there was a perception in the industry that AT&T was tackling the easier parts of the buildout first to hit the milestones quickly and get the payments, making the final 40% of the buildout potentially more difficult.

“So, it would be nice to go to the easy places first, but that’s not the way the contract is built,” said Mair. “And our obligations are really split into we have to hit the square mile coverage in nonrural areas, think metro areas and suburban areas, as well as rural. So, I can’t meet one versus the other. It’s always easier to build in metro areas, but I also need to hit that same 60% target in rural areas. So, I need to balance how we’re building, and so, as we get to the next ones, there’s more and more rural that’s going to be there.”

FirstNet recently announced the completion of two new rural band 14 sites.

Mair noted that the FirstNet buildout has helped improve the quality of AT&T’s network because the company can deploy other spectrum it has at the same time it builds out the FirstNet network. He cited a recent report that showed the FirstNet network performs 25 percent faster than commercial networks.

“When we’re building FirstNet, we’re actually touching the tower, and we’re doing multiple things,” Mair said. “Besides putting up band 14, we’re putting in new modem technology, radio technology that enhances the network. So, it gives us 5G evolution speeds with 256 QAM and four-by-four MIMO (multiple input multiple output) and capabilities with carrier aggregation.”

So far, 7,500 agencies for a total of 600,000 connections are using the FirstNet network. About 50 percent of those customers are new to AT&T, Mair said.

Would you like to comment on this story? Find our comments system below.

Post a comment
Name: *
Email: *
Title: *
Comment: *


No Comments Submitted Yet

Be the first by using the form above to submit a comment!


May 2021

18 - 19
Nexus: The NG 9-1-1 Experience Reimagined
Washington, D.C.

More Events >

Site Navigation