FirstNet Monday afternoon revealed that initial state plans for its nationwide LTE first-responder network are ready, so that states can now choose to opt into the AT&T-built 4G network, or go their own way.
The plans were due to be released today through an online portal. States have up to 45 days to review the plans and comment on them before a 90-day period starts for each territory governor to decide whether to opt in or out of the FirstNet offering. This is no small decision, since AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) would then be in the frame to run the network, which is intended to give police, fire and medical first responders a single common platform to communicate on for the next 25 years.
AT&T officially won the $7 billion FirstNet contract in March. A common nationwide network for first responders using the 700MHz D-Band in the US was suggested way back in 2006, in response to the major radio interoperability issues highlighted by the 9/11 attacks. (See AT&T Formally Lands FirstNet Contract and AT&T Has FirstNet Public Safety Deal in the Bag – Sources.)
"The network buildout proposed in the State Plans will create thousands of new jobs nationwide and drive investments across the states and territories," FirstNet says in a statement, noting that the plans are ready three months ahead of schedule.
The plan is to provide first responders with "dedicated access" on the existing AT&T LTE network initially. A further infrastructure build-out will follow that.
AT&T will get access to 20MHz of the low-band 700MHz spectrum to build out the FirstNet network this year. Any bandwidth not used can be put to commercial purposes instead. How much spectrum is available for commercial use will depend on how many states opt into the FirstNet program.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading