FirstNet and AT&T submit customized buildout plans for states to consider

Firefighters training a hose on a fire
States have 45 days to review the plans then can exchange feedback with FirstNet.

FirstNet revealed its initial individual state plans for the first nationwide dedicated wireless network for first responders, essentially starting the clock for states to decide whether they want to participate.

FirstNet said it has worked with states, territories, localities, federal authorities and the public safety community since 2013 to develop the plans, which were delivered three months ahead of schedule. States and territories can spend up to 45 days to review the plans, then have an opportunity to exchange feedback with FirstNet before a 90-day window opens for them to opt in or out of FirstNet.

“When we announced our public-private partnership in March, we committed to begin building this unprecedented network and technology ecosystem for public safety later this year,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president of AT&T-FirstNet, in a press release. “Later begins now. States, territories and public safety have expressed their desire to move quickly. That’s what we’re helping to enable today.”

The FirstNet organization was created in 2012, but the U.S. Department of Commerce didn’t award the contract to a service provider until March 2017, when it granted AT&T the right to build the nation’s first network dedicated to first responders. Rivada Networks, which lost the FirstNet contract to AT&T, said last week that it continues to respond to states that issue RFPs seeking vendors willing to build and maintain a statewide public safety LTE radio access network (RAN) that would be interoperable with FirstNet’s offering.

States have a legal right to opt out of FirstNet’s service, and Rivada is positioning its offering as an alternative.

FirstNet officials say states have been receptive to their plans, however. Forty-nine states have requested follow-up meetings to discuss the plans with FirstNet and AT&T, the officials said, and 30 of those will be held in the next two weeks.

Under terms of the contract, AT&T will get access to FirstNet’s 20 MHz of 700 MHz low-band spectrum and $6.5 billion for designing and operating the nationwide network for federal, state and local authorities, with the right to sell excess capacity on the system. AT&T will spend roughly $40 billion over the life of the 25-year contract to deploy and maintain the network, the Department of Commerce said, integrating its network assets with FirstNet.