By Chris Sambar, Senior Vice President AT&T FirstNet

Yesterday’s unanimous conclusion of the FirstNet opt-in/opt-out process made one thing clear: Governors across the country recognize that the men and women that risk it all for us deserve the best. And they deserve it now.

And now, they can have it. The 53 FirstNet opt ins mean:

  • Immediacy – First responders nationwide have immediate access to this new and meaningful network, designed and built by AT&T. And first responders are jumping at the opportunity to take advantage of its early benefits. This gives them access to mission-critical capabilities, like priority and preemption. These services work together to give first responders an always-on connection to the information they need, when they need it. Every day. Around the clock.
  • More efficiency – Mission-critical capabilities – like the recently launched preemption – will be deployed across all states and territories at the same time. This will help to quickly alleviate public safety’s current communication challenges. It will also dramatically boost cross-jurisdictional situational awareness as first responders connect across new technologies, organizations and geographies.  
  • Better sustainability – Opt-in states and territories don’t have to pay to build, maintain or upgrade the network. Instead, AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to deliver FirstNet. The First Responder Network Authority is providing success-based payments of $6.5 billion – raised from previous FCC spectrum auctions, not taxpayer dollars – over the next 5 years to support FirstNet’s build.

Building the Network

Emergencies are unpredictable. First responders’ access to communications shouldn’t be. So, AT&T is building FirstNet to reach all first responders. Not just those in urban areas.

A good portion of firefighters are volunteers located in small or rural communities. The network must deliver for them and all who keep us safe a solution that’s more available and reliable than their existing networks.

To do this, we started with our existing AT&T LTE infrastructure as the foundation. This is how we’re able to bring FirstNet to first responders today.

In 2018, we’ll build on that foundation. Using 20 MHz of high-value, Band 14 telecommunications spectrum provided by the Authority, the AT&T-built FirstNet network will give first responders even more coverage and capacity across the country. We’ll put Band 14 on tens of thousands of new and existing towers nationwide.  

AT&T is also working with states and public safety to identify and harden certain critical sites. These include sites that are in regions vulnerable to hazards like hurricanes, snow and ice storms, tornadoes, flooding and wild fires.

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.

Standing by our Commitment

FirstNet brings a new choice to first responders on the communications platform public safety has needed for years. While others may try to replicate what FirstNet will offer with a “me too” response, FirstNet is the only network prepared to deliver on public safety’s and Congress’s vision.

And it will be delivered by a team whose members include previous first responders and public safety officials. So, when disasters strike, we’ll know what first responders need because we’ve walked in their shoes.

As we move into the new year, our goal remains the same as when we bid. To deliver the best possible network for public safety, meeting their communications needs today and every day for years to come. And we couldn’t be more honored to be charged with this great responsibility.