The Department of Commerce and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) signed an agreement with AT&T to build and maintain a first-of-its-kind nationwide wireless network for police, firefighters and emergency medical workers.
The selection of AT&T to build the new network is a major step forward following a prolonged procurement process that was delayed due to a legal challenge by one of the companies bidding to build the network, Rivada Mercury.
During a March 30 event hosted by the Department of Commerce to highlight the new partnership, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross offered remarks stressing the day’s importance.
“FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure," Ross said. "This public-private partnership will also spur innovation and create over 10,000 new jobs in this cutting-edge sector."
The broad terms of the agreement between AT&T and FirstNet include a 25-year partnership where FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum.
The government will pay $6.5 billion to AT&T over the next five years to support the network buildout and allow AT&T to use the Band14 spectrum to serve public safety on a primary basis and non-public entities on a secondary basis.
AT&T has agreed to spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety.
Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users (including county governments) to the company’s telecommunications network assets which are currently valued at more than $180 billion.
NACo has been a strong supporter of FirstNet’s efforts to build the new telecommunications network for first responders, and actively works with FirstNet through its Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) where NACo Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee member Sheriff Len Humphries serves.