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AT&T to Build and Manage US Public Safety Broadband Network for FirstNet

By Ken Briodagh April 03, 2017

According to a recent announcement, AT&T has been selected by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to build and manage the first broadband network dedicated to America's police, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS). The FirstNet network will cover all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including rural communities and tribal lands in those states and territories.

This is a needed investment in America’s communications infrastructure designed to support millions of first responders and public safety personnel nationwide who protect and serve more than 320 million people across the U.S. This significant public-private infrastructure investment is expected to create 10,000 U.S. jobs over the next two years from AT&T’s work for FirstNet. The network buildout will begin in 2017.

“We are honored to work with FirstNet to build a network for America's police, firefighters and EMS that is second to none,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “This is an unprecedented public-private investment in infrastructure that makes America a leader and public safety a national priority.”

Today, first responders use commercial networks – the same ones used by consumers and businesses – for mobile data and applications. 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. First responders also use more than 10,000 networks for voice communications. These networks often do not interoperate, which severely limits their ability to communicate with each other when responding to a situation. 

“Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and shows the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships,” said Wilbur Ross, Secretary , U.S. Department of Commerce. “FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure. This public-private partnership will also spur innovation and create over ten thousand new jobs in this cutting-edge sector.”

In addition to creating a nationwide seamless, IP-based, high-speed mobile communications network that will give first responders priority access, the network will help:

•             Improve rescue and recovery operations to help keep first responders out of harm's way

•             Better connect first responders to the critical information they need in an emergency

•             Further the development of public safety focused IoT and Smart City solutions such as providing near real-time information on traffic conditions to determine the fastest route to an emergency

•             Enable advanced capabilities, like wearable sensors and cameras for police and firefighters, and camera-equipped drones and robots that can deliver near real-time images of events, such as fires, floods or crimes. 



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