Just one month after awarding the contract for the multibillion dollar First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) project to telecom giant AT&T, FirstNet CEO Mike Poth announced that one of the key benefits of this public-private partnership is that once a governor opts in to the FirstNet State Plan, public safety agencies within the state will have access to all AT&T long-term evolution (LTE) bands as soon as the end of this year.
"Our public-private partnership will use AT&T’s existing network infrastructure, valued at more than $180 billion," Poth wrote in a blog post. "Having an existing network on which to build will deliver specialized features to public safety faster — meaning less time to better outcomes for the public they serve and protect."
So far, five states have issued RFPs in the interest of procuring their own public-safety LTE networks: Alabama and Arizona are still in the beginning stages; New Hampshire selected Rivada Networks as its vendor last year; and in March, Michigan and Colorado issued RFPs, both of which will decide upon reviewing proposals whether to join FirstNet or build their own networks.
Poth noted in his blog post that FirstNet is on track to achieve a number of key milestones, such as the delivery of draft state plans in June, which he said is three months ahead of the authority’s original target time frame.
"Additionally, in advance of delivering the draft State Plans, FirstNet and AT&T look forward to bringing all of the State Single Points of Contact (SPOCs) together to preview key information that will be shared in the online State Plans portal," Poth wrote. "We will also review with the SPOCs the process for state plans."
Over the last three years, the authority conducted market research and gathered feedback from public safety agencies to ensure that the network is truly "for public safety, by public safety."
"Public safety agencies have been asking for priority and pre-emption over a broadband network for a long time, and we are excited to deliver on that promise to them," Poth wrote. "This is an example of how we can use AT&T’s expertise and infrastructure investments to provide immediate, significant benefits to public safety."
FirstNet also will utilize AT&T's economies of scale to deliver an app and device ecosystem tailored to public safety, and provide a dedicated help desk.
"As we pledged to do, FirstNet and AT&T have hit the ground running with this public-private partnership," Poth wrote. "There is much work to be done, and we won’t be letting up on the focus or drive to deliver this much needed network for public safety. We look forward to working with public safety and the states as we drive full steam ahead on State Plans and the launch of the nationwide public safety broadband network."