FirstNet Ends the Year on a High Note


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All 50 states, two U.S. territories and Washington, D.C. have opted into FirstNet following yesterday’s deadline to sign up.

“With every state saying `yes’ to the FirstNet plan, America’s first responders now have a nationwide interoperable network they can rely on 24/7/365 – like their mission,” said First Responder Network Authority Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth.  “I applaud these governors for their decision and congratulate public safety for its advocacy and partnership throughout the process.  With more than 50 states and territories participating in FirstNet, public safety is assured of an enduring, self-sufficient network to serve them for years to come,” he said in the FirstNet press release. The First Responder Network Authority’s public-private partnership with AT&T provides first responders with immediate access to mission-critical capabilities over the FirstNet network.  This includes priority and preemption features that give first responders their own ‘fast lane’ on the public safety network to communicate and share information during emergencies, large events or other situations when commercial networks could become congested.

New Hampshire, which had been the only state to opt out in December, reversed its decision and will be joining AT&T. California made its decision yesterday. Three U.S. territories have until March 12, 2018, to make their decision: American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“While getting to this point is a major achievement for public safety, our job is not finished,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Poth.  “We still have much work to do to realize the full potential of FirstNet for public safety everywhere, including rural America, and we will move full speed ahead to make it happen.”

So, what will the new year bring? According to its press release, FirstNet identifies its next steps as follows:

  • Expanding the Network and Building Out Band 14: The First Responder Network Authority will issue work orders to deploy the RANs in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the two opt-in territories in early 2018.  This will give AT&T the green light to expand FirstNet’s footprint and deploy Band 14 capacity and coverage throughout the nation, providing first responders with the bandwidth and mission critical connections they need to communicate, share information, and use innovative technologies every day and in every emergency.
  • Driving Public Safety Innovation: FirstNet will also unlock a new technology marketplace for public safety, enabling first responders to benefit from advancements in innovation.  The FirstNet App store will be filling up with FirstNet-approved mobile apps that are optimized for public safety use over the first responder network.
  • Securing Emergency Communications: FirstNet’s first-of-its-kind core infrastructure will give first responders the dedicated, highly secure, non-commercial network they deserve.  On schedule to be operational in March, the FirstNet public safety core will provide full encryption of public safety data over FirstNet and provide end-to-end cyber security.  FirstNet subscribers will also have access to a dedicated Security Operations Center, offering 24/7/365 support.
  • Engaging with Public Safety: Public safety outreach and advocacy will not stop as the network is further built out.  The First Responder Network Authority will continue to engage with public safety in the states, territories, federal agencies, and tribal nations to ensure the network meets their needs and incorporate their feedback in the design of future FirstNet products and services.

Regarding the announcement, Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said, “Talk is over, now it is go time for AT&T. With this agreement, T gets access to 20 MHz of nationwide 700 MHz (D Block) spectrum and gets paid by the government (~ $7B) to help with the cost of this build. However, in order for AT&T to be able to receive the government payment associated with FirstNet, it must hit specific milestones with the infrastructure build. As we have written in the past, we see this as a significant boon for the tower industry–beginning in 2018 and extending years after. Our checks show that with this build T will touch ~ 45K sites over a fiev year period–with as many as 15K in year one. We note CCI is the only tower co (of the three publics) which has given 2018 guidance. AMT and SBAC are to offer this guidance when they report Q4. We note CCI’s 2018 guidance does not include any contribution from FirstNet.”

December 29, 2017

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