By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
In a formal ceremony at the U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday, the FirstNet contract was awarded to AT&T for the nation’s first nationwide wireless broadband network, Inside Towers reported. Several fire/police/EMS officials who spoke said the interactive network will help all first responders connect to their colleagues anywhere; when built, the network will replace gear like legacy land-mobile radios.
“It will change an untenable status quo by providing first responders the tools they need to keep us safe,” said U.S. House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), who co-led the FirstNet legislation in Congress with former Senate colleague Jay Rockefeller (D-N.Y.). FirstNet is part of an effort “to build a more secure society” after 9/11, said Walden, who added: “The Administration is now prepared to deliver” on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report.
FirstNet President T.J. Kennedy said police, fire, and paramedics will be able to share data, photos, voice communications and more across all agencies and layers of first responders. The network will be nationwide, across all states, territories, tribal lands and include the District of Columbia. “This network is self-funded and sustainable and will be upgraded across the country, all at the same time,” said Kennedy.
With the first installment of $6.5B in funding, FirstNet will use 20 MHz of spectrum over the next five years for the buildout. AT&T will spend about $40B over the lifetime of the contract to build, deploy and operate it. Chairman/CEO Randall Stephenson said the network “makes America a leader and public safety a national priority.” He called the bidding process “transparent” and “first rate” and added: “We’re ready to get started.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai referenced the 700 MHz band spectrum for which the FCC authorized the FirstNet license. “We have submitted basic technical requirements for the network which FirstNet will construct.”
UPDATE: All 50 states, two U.S. territories and Washington, D.C. have opted into FirstNet following the December 28, deadline to sign up. Read the article here.
March 31, 2017