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BRIEF: FirstNet to Receive $218M for 5G, Other Upgrades

First Responder Network Authority Board has approved the investment of $218 million to make upgrades to the national first responders network and prepare for future 5G capabilities.

an aerostat test
FirstNet tests an aerostat (or blimp) as a means of delivering Internet connection in disaster areas.
Courtesy FirstNet/AT&T
The First Responder Network Authority Board has approved $218 million for FirstNet communication network upgrades, including investment in 5G capabilities.

The resolution approved June 17, 2020 directs authority staff to contract with AT&T to fund initial network upgrades for 5G connectivity and expand the fleet of mobile communication devices, which currently include Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs), drones known as Cell on Wings or “Flying COWS,” as well as a 55-foot blimp-like communication “aerostat.”

“The Board’s actions set the network on a path to 5G and will boost on-demand coverage for public safety,” Chair Edward Horowitz said in a statement. “We look forward to delivering on these advancements for public safety and working to identify our next network investment opportunities.”

FirstNet is a high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. The FirstNet Authority is an independent body within the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.