According to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), governors across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have unanimously opted in on FirstNet, America’s first-ever nationwide public safety broadband network, as part of a $6.5 billion government contract, that will last 25 years. The idea of a network dedicated solely for first respondents first came up following the 9/11 attacks, when more than a dozen agencies said they had difficulties communicating information due to radio system difficulties that morning.
States had until December 29 to decide whether they wanted to officially opt in or opt out of the FirstNet system, with California, Florida, mississippi, and New York making last minute decisions to join in on the 25 year contract.
“AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to deliver FirstNet. And the First Responder Network Authority is providing success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next 5 years as well as 20 MHz of high-value spectrum to support FirstNet’s build,” says AT&T.
Although the FirstNet spectrum is primarily prioritized for first responders, it can be used for consumer wireless applications when there is no emergency, which should give customers better cellular reception and bandwidth to AT&T customers.