YOU ARE AT:CarriersNationwide FirstNet build and validation well underway, AT&T says

Nationwide FirstNet build and validation well underway, AT&T says

AT&T has activated FirstNet spectrum at some 2,500 sites

As the carrier activates the FirstNet LTE network dedicated for use by first responders, while simultaneously augmenting its own consumer-facing network capabilities, AT&T reports Band 14 support has been added to around 2,500 wireless sites around the country.

AT&T plans to invest $40 billion of its own money in FirstNet’s network over the life of the 25-year contract with the First Responders Network Authority, which has allocated $6.5 billion for the contract. The arrangement allows AT&T to tap into 20 megahertz of 700 MHz spectrum, which the carrier can also access for commercial services based on a prioritization scheme.

With construction ongoing in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, AT&T says, in addition to the 2,500 sites that are live, another 10,000-plus are in the works. The carrier will also build 1,000 new sites as part the project. FirstNet has so far accounted for around 110,000 connections.

“Since getting the green light to deploy Band 14 in March of this year, we’ve been moving quickly in order to bring first responders the additional coverage and capacity that only their network can provide,” Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T-FirstNet. “What’s more, the FirstNet build is based off direct feedback from the states and public safety community. So, each current or new site to get Band 14 helps to meet public safety’s specific network needs.”

As AT&T constructs the new network, the First Responder Network Authority is validating the public safety functionality. FirstNet Authority CEO Mike Poth said the partnership is making “incredible strides” but, “There’s still much work to be done…We’ll work hand-in-hand with AT&T to ensure that FIrstNet’s advancements meet the needs of first responders. No other network can commit to this.”

In May, speaking with Craig Moffett at the MoffettNathanson 5th Annual Media & Communications Summit, AT&T CEO John Donovan said the carrier will use the construction mandate to deploy unused spectrum, upgrade sites and reach deeper into rural consumer markets that typically fall to chief competitor Verizon.

“T-Mobile much more urban, Verizon much more rural,” Donovan said. “FirstNet gives us a great opportunity to go into the rural markets because not only will we be building the network for first responders, it dawned us that we should also be putting up stores and going after the consumers. I think Verizon’s going to have its hands full with our strategy going forward in the more rural areas.”

He said network investment hit around $140 million in the first quarter of 2018 and will reach around $2 billion by the end of the year. “We’re really getting into a ramp on the build,” Donovan said. “We’re going out and touching the towers, at the same time we’re deploying all our spectrum. It’s one touch for all the bands. The footprint is beginning to grow.”




Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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