AT&T, one of the leaders in telecommunications in the US has secured a contract for creating and managing the nation’s public safety network. This will provide huge assistance to the majority of the police force, firefighters, and emergency medical services across the country. FirstNet has selected AT&T, one of the best internet providers in the nation for building and improving the wireless network, which will commence by the end of the year.
The Federal government authorized FirstNet or the First Responder Network Authority in 2012. It began functioning within the US Department of Commerce as an independent authority. AT&T stated in its announcement, “FirstNet will provide 20MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the network build out.” The spectrum used by FirstNet is positioned in the 700MHz band used by consumer LTE networks.
Back in 2015, a spectrum auction has enabled the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to raise approximately $7 billion to fund the network. AT&T was one of the major sources of funding and was way ahead of many bidders as they secured about $18.2 billion of winning bids. The duration of this new contract with FirstNet extends to a period of 25 years.
The company stated, “AT&T will 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 users.” AT&T has also enabled the connection of FirstNet users to their existing network.
The introduction of FirstNet will modernize the communication of the first responders and will offer many specialized features that are not currently available to them. The availability of the exact commercial network that is designated for mobile internet use by consumers and businesses, for the different responders can be an issue at times. AT&T said, “That can be an issue when a significant public safety crisis happens and commercial networks quickly become congested. It makes it difficult for first responders to communicate, coordinate and do their jobs.”
The FirstNet program has extended coverage to about fifty states and five US territories. The coverage also extends to many tribal and rural lands. According to AT&T, the FirstNet is ideal for usage in applications like emergency services by providing near real-time information on traffic conditions to determine the fastest route to an emergency.
Furthermore, this network will assist in extending the latest technologies like wearable cameras and sensors to police forces and firefighter units. This will definitely aid public services as drones and robots equipped with cameras and sensors will deliver near real-time images and data related to any issues like disasters or crimes, using the cheap internet service of AT&T.