50 US States Sign on for Nationwide Safety Network
The first major stage of the FirstNet nationwide 4G LTE network program is done, as 50 states have now signed on, and AT&T says that it has started deploying the network already, with the major rollout happening in 2018.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced on Friday that all 50 US states have now signed onto the program. New Hampshire had been a notable holdout but eventually went with AT&T. (See AT&T to Make 5G Network Available to First Responders Too for more on this.)
Fifty states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories in total have signed up for the network. The three Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam and Northern Marianas Islands are not due to finally decide until March 12, 2018.
Chris Sambar, senior vice president for AT&T, told Light Reading recently that AT&T is building the core network for FirstNet now and has started to deploy the radio access network (RAN) equipment as well. AT&T gets $6.5 billion to deploy the network in 700MHz D-Block spectrum nationwide, and expects to spend $40 billion building and maintaining the network over the 25-year term of the contract. (See AT&T Has FirstNet Public Safety Deal in the Bag – Sources and AT&T Formally Lands FirstNet Contract.)
AT&T gets to make the dedicated spectrum accessible to commercial customers when it is not needed by first responders. AT&T has previously said it will open up all its network bands, including 5G bands yet to be deployed, to first responders when needed.
Verizon Wireless , which didn't bid on FirstNet, has derided the AT&T contract as a "spectrum deal," that the operator benefits from through access to additional LTE bandwidth. AT&T's Sambar has previously said that the operator takes exception to such statements and that AT&T is committed to building a network for emergency personnel first and foremost.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading