Coolcaesar at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
The nationwide broadband network for first responders, FirstNet, will be the official public safety network for all of the 50 states of the United States. The said network has been a very long time coming. Having been originally proposed after the 9/11 attacks, the FCC approved LTE to become the standard on which it would function way back in 2011. In March, AT&T was chosen by the First Responder Network Authority to establish and run the network. In June, the company started sending its plans to the state governments for review. States only had until yesterday to determine whether they would opt in or out of the said program and it was reported that all of the 50 states decided to approve it. Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington DC also opted in while Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa, have until the 12th of March to make their decisions.
The FirstNet program will be supported by success-based payments from the First Responder Network Authority that has a total amounting to $6.5 billion over the next five years, and AT&T says that it will contribute about $40 billion over the next 25 years as it establishes and manages the network. FirstNet will offer first responders dedicated access to LTE coverage. Beginning today, the network will run on the existing LTE infrastructure of AT&T. In 2018, the company will expand the said network, adding the spectrum specifically licensed for FirstNet, which is called the Band 14 spectrum, on tens of thousands of towers that are located across the country.
In a statement, AT&T said: “The full FirstNet experience will come to life over the next 5 years. And as it does, we’ll continue to explore upgrades — like 5G — that will give first responders the best connection on their own network dedicated to them when they need it.”