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Broadband network for US emergency services

The public-private infrastructure investment will help police, firefighters and other first responders keep America safe

The network will cover all 50 states, five US territories and the District of Columbia
The network will cover all 50 states, five US territories and the District of Columbia

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) has chosen AT&T to build and manage the first broadband network dedicated to America’s police, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS).


The FirstNet network will cover all 50 states, 5 US territories and the District of Columbia, including rural communities and tribal lands in those states and territories. The network build-out will begin later this year.


This is much needed investment in America’s communications infrastructure to support millions of first responders and public safety personnel nationwide who protect and serve more than 320 million people across the US. This significant public-private infrastructure investment is expected to create 10,000 US jobs over the next two years from AT&T’s work for FirstNet.


"Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and shows the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships," said US. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. "FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure. This public-private partnership will also spur innovation and create over ten thousand new jobs in this cutting-edge sector."


Today, first responders use commercial networks – the same ones used by consumers and businesses – for mobile data and applications. That can be an issue when a significant public safety crisis happens and commercial networks quickly become congested. It makes it difficult for first responders to communicate, coordinate and do their jobs.


Plus, first responders use more than 10,000 networks for voice communications. These networks often do not interoperate, which severely limits their ability to communicate with each other when responding to a situation.

FirstNet’s mission is to fix this. Through this new public-private partnership with FirstNet, AT&T will deliver a dedicated, interoperable network and ecosystem that will give first responders the technology they need to better communicate and collaborate across agencies and jurisdictions – local, state and national.


In addition to creating a nationwide seamless, IP-based, high-speed mobile communications network that will give first responders priority access, the network will help:

  • Improve rescue and recovery operations to help keep first responders out of harm’s way;
  • Better connect first responders to the critical information they need in an emergency;
  • Further the development of public safety focused IoT and smart city solutions such as providing near real-time information on traffic conditions to determine the fastest route to an emergency;
  • Enable advanced capabilities, like wearable sensors and cameras for police and firefighters, and camera-equipped drones and robots that can deliver near real-time images of events, such as fires, floods or crimes.

FirstNet and AT&T will innovate and evolve the network to keep the public safety community at the forefront of technology advances. For example, as 5G network capabilities develop in the coming years, FirstNet and AT&T will work together to provide the exponential increases in the speed with which video and data travel across the FirstNet network.


To help FirstNet achieve its public safety mission, AT&T has assembled a team that includes Motorola Solutions, General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting and Inmarsat Government.


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