Inmarsat unit chosen to provide satellite communications for US FirstNet emergency network

An AT&T sign is seen outside a branch in Rolling Meadows

An AT&T sign is seen outside a branch in Rolling Meadows Illinois U.S

Meanwhile, FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of spectrum and payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years depending on the success of the project.

AT&T have been awarded a lucrative government contract by the US Department of Commerce to develop a nationwide network, with FirstNet, for first responders.

Its public safety mission is to build, operate and maintain the first U.S. high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to police, firefighters and emergency medical services.

Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medics will have access to this network, which will cover all 50 states.

The concept was proffered by the 9/11 Commission, which recommended building a broadband network "that equips first responders with the latest technology to save lives", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday during an event announcing the partnership with AT&T.

"At this point though, we assume that the state plan will meet our needs since we have been very active in the consultation process with FirstNet", she wrote in an email to StateScoop. "It's also a sign of the incredible ability of public-private partnerships to drive innovation and solve some of our biggest problems while also creating jobs and growing the economy". First responders also require a lot of network space; AT&T's press release states that first responders use more than 10,000 networks for voice communications.

AT&T will create the first-ever nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to first responders.


"This mission-critical broadband network is virtually unprecedented in public safety", said Jeffrey Johnson, vice chairman of FirstNet.

The 25-year deal ensures that such situations "no longer will happen", said TJ Kennedy, president of FirstNet.

During the 9/11 attacks, emergency service first responders were unable to efficiently co-ordinate due to using different radio frequencies.

But first responders aren't the only ones who stand to benefit from the network buildout. It is expected to create 10,000 jobs in the US, as AT&T builds new cell phone towers, maintains the network and helps service customers, he said.

Supporting AT&T and Motorola Solutions in the FirstNet rollout include General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting and Inmarsat Government.

"FirstNet today took a major leap forward in delivering a dedicated national network that will give first responders the bandwidth, speed, security, and reliability they clearly need", said Telecommunications Industry Association senior VP Cinnamon Rogers.

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