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AT&T's FirstNet enlists all 50 states for first responder network

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AT&T said Friday all 50 US states including Washington DC, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have opted-in to its FirstNet communications network for first responders.

FirstNet aims to provide a nationwide broadband network for America’s public safety community “with access to new technologies and increased capacity and reliability for their mobile communications and data needs.”

AT&T will build out FirstNet over the next five years with existing AT&T LTE infrastructure as the foundation and 20MHz of band 14 telecommunications spectrum provided by the government. During the rollout, AT&T said it will continue to explore upgrades like 5G.

FirstNet was announced earlier in 2017 and is being funded by a government contract with success-based payments of $6.5 billion — raised from previous FCC spectrum auctions.

AT&T will spend about $40 billion over a 25 year contract to deliver FirstNet, and states and territories don’t have to pay to build, maintain or upgrade the network, the company said.

AT&T wants public safety personnel to send and receive voice, data, video, images, and text without concerns about network congestion through a “fast lane,” and with one network, share information across jurisdictions.

AT&T said it will rollout an app store and ecosystem for first responder specific apps.

“With every state saying `yes’ to the FirstNet plan, America’s first responders now have a nationwide interoperable network they can rely on 24/7/365 – like their mission,” First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth, said. “I applaud these governors for their decision and congratulate public safety for its advocacy and partnership throughout the process.”

States were given until Thursday to decide if they wanted to opt-out of involvement with the FirstNet program. All are participating, and American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Marianas Islands get until March 12, 2018 to decide.

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