AT&T FirstNet public safety network has all 50 US states participating

AT&T has announced that all 50 US states are participating in its public safety network called FirstNet. The project will take place over the next handful of years, ultimately culminating in a robust broadband network provided specifically for first responders. The carrier recently held an opt-in/out period during which states had to decide whether they wanted in...and, it turns out, they all do.

The FirstNet network is the by-product of a goverment contract tasking the carrier with building a solution for first responders, that itself building upon a recommendation for such a network in our post-9/11 world. Under the contract, AT&T is getting 20 megahertz wireless airwaves and extensive funding to spend half a decade building the network.

This first responder-centric network is the result of years of work. It was way back in 2011 that the FCC finally decided that LTE would be the suitable standard for this network, and now years later one of the nation's biggest LTE providers has made i a reality.

The First Responder Network Authority will make payments to AT&T based on success, ultimately shelling out $6.5 billion. AT&T will be covering the other $40 or so billion, though that will be spread out over the next 25 years and will include managing the network, not just building it.

The FirstNet network is available to first responders starting today, and it'll be improved over coming years. AT&T says it will build the foundation next year, adding Band 14 for more capacity and coverage, as well as identifying and hardening "certain critical sites" in states, including places where natural disasters are likely. FirstNet could also get a 5G upgrade in the future.