All 50 States Opt-In to FirstNet

Pete CodellaBroadband

On December 29, the U.S. Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced that all 50 States as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virigin Islands have accepted the FirstNet proposals for their state and districts.

FirstNet is a government/private partnership to provider broadband-based emergency communications network for first responders through its contract with AT&T.  The network is funded by the FCC spectrum auction plus investment through AT&T.  2017 generated significant dialogue regarding public safety communications which drew attention to the critical customer segment that will make this year, 2018, the year that actions and results will begin to take action.  The FirstNet app store, that will provide first responders open standards apps for things like situational awareness, mapping, field reporting and records management, and wearables and forensics.

Now that opt-in decisions are in, FirstNet is expected to give AT&T the official go ahead at the beginning of this year for an aggressive build that will help cover unserved and underserved areas.  Subscribers will expect:

  • Increased coverage and capacity plus access to mobile dedicated network that will assist deployment for coverage and support
  • The launch of the AT&T-built FirstNet nationwide, dedicated evolved packet core network with end-to-end encryption
  • Access to dedicated Security Operations Center with 24/7 support
  • Access to a range of next generation public safety tools such as mission-critical push-to-talk and device offerings to bring value to urban and rural first responders
  • The continuation of innovation toward FirstNet application ecosystem that will be supported by “hackathons” in the new year.

Guam, the Pacific Territories of American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands, the last remaining to opt-in or out of the proposals, have until March 12 to make their decision.