The Commerce Department and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) on Thursday selected telecommunications giant AT&T Inc. [T] for a $46.5 billion project to build a nationwide wireless broadband network for use by first responders.
“FirstNet has worked closely with public safety to listen to their experiences and objectives, so together, we will create a network that will meet their needs now and for years to come,” TJ Kennedy, president of FirstNet, said in a blog post on the FirstNet website. FirstNet is an independent authority within the Commerce Department.
Under the 25-year deal, FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of high-value broadband spectrum and success-based payments to AT&T of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support build out of the network. The authority’s funding was raised through earlier auctions managed by the Federal Communications Commission.
AT&T will also spend $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring coverage for public safety. The company will also connect users to its telecommunications network assets, which are valued at more than $180 billion.
The FirstNet network is supposed to allow seamless communications across jurisdictions, preventing law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical services from having to suffer overloaded and inaccessible networks.
“FirstNet and AT&T will deliver high-speed connectivity to help millions of first responders operate faster, safer, and more effectively when lives are on the line,” Sue Swenson, chairman of the FirstNet board, said in a statement.
FirstNet said on Tuesday that it had agreed to move forward quickly on completing the procurement.
The creation of FirstNet is a response to a 9/11 Commission recommendation calling for “expedited and increased assignment of radio spectrum for public safety purposes.” The commission’s report noted that where the hijacked passenger planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001—New York City, the Pentagon, and Somerset County, Pa.—there was an inability to communicate “where multiple agencies and multiple jurisdictions responded.”