AT&T and FirstNet release state plans for responder network

James Pearce
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Release comes three months earlier than expected, and gives US states details of nationwide LTE emergency services network

AT&T has released proposals for the first states where it and FirstNet plans to deploy the high-speed data and voice network for America’s first responders.

The deal needs to be approved by state governors, who can access the plans through an online portal, with FirstNet officials set to take part in 30 follow-up meetings with individual states over the next two weeks.

49 states in total have already requested meetings with FirstNet, according to reports, with the release of the plans coming three months ahead of schedule.

The $46.5 billion, 25 year contract to build and operate FirstNet was awarded to AT&T , along with a number of vendors, more than 15 years after the need for a nationwide network was first identified.

"When we announced our public-private partnership in March, we committed to begin building this unprecedented network and technology ecosystem for public safety later this year," said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T – FirstNet. "Later begins now. States, territories and public safety have expressed their desire to move quickly. That's what we're helping to enable today."

AT&T and FirstNet claim the decision will:

Transfer the financial, operational and technical risks of building, maintaining and upgrading the FirstNet network in the state or territory to AT&T for the next 25 years.

Launch key network features that public safety has fought for, like quality of service and priority access to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network.

Provide preemption over the AT&T LTE network – expected by year-end. This means fire, police and EMS will have dedicated access to the network when they need it.

Deliver feature-rich services at competitive rates for first responders.

"With this step, we're ready to deliver the first nationwide network for public safety, by public safety," said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "This network will drive innovation, security and interoperability for public safety across the country. It's what EMS, fire and law enforcement spent years fighting for and need right now."