An independent Commerce Department authority that is helping to ensure the deployment and operation of a nationwide broadband network for first responders on Wednesday approved its first investments related to upgrading the network to the next-generation of wireless communication technology.
The First Responder Network (FirstNet) Authority Board approved awarding two task orders worth $218 million to AT&T [T]. The first award is for expanding the fleet of deployables, such as satellite cell on light trucks and airborne assets with cellular networking capabilities, to enhance coverage and capacity for public safety during emergencies and events.
The second ward is for the first generational upgrades to enable 5G network capabilities, which the authority said would take multiple phases and begin with the network core.
“It acts as the nervous system of the network, separates all public safety traffic from non-public safety user traffic, and enables differentiated services for network uses,” the authority said. “In the future, 5G is expected to drive major increases in the quantity and types of connected devices for FirstNet users, including vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and sensors.”
The FirstNet Authority is an independent authority within the Commerce Department.