AT&T this week announced it will spend over $40 billion over the next 25 years to build, deploy, and operate a broadband network dedicated to first responders. Construction of the network, which is in partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), will begin later this year.
“Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and shows the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
The network is said to cover more than 320 million people across all 50 states; five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia will also be covered. AT&T said it expects the new infrastructure investment to create upwards of 10,000 jobs over the next two years.
“FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure,” Ross said.
Currently, first responders use the same networks as consumers and business, which can be an issue when they become congested during times of crisis. Complicating matters are the numerous networks—over 10,000, according to AT&T—first responders use for voice communications, resulting in an interoperability nightmare.
The partnership between AT&T and FirstNet will address these issues and provide first responders with a connected ecosystem through which to communicate, even across agencies and jurisdictions.
AT&T claims the network will help improve rescue and recovery operations, better connect first responders, and deliver real-time images of events, such as fires.
“There’s no connection more important than one that can save a life,” said Kay Kapoor, President of AT&T’s Global Public Sector. “FirstNet is unprecedented in its vision, scope and importance to our nation and the future of public safety communications.”