The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation held “An Update on FirstNet” hearing on Thursday, July 20 to learn about the progress of FirstNet and AT&T’s national broadband network designed to support public safety. The hearing focused on establishing what these partners have accomplished so far and what they plan for the future.
Michael Poth, FirstNet CEO and Chris Sambar, senior vice president of AT&T, explained that they are working to utilize existing infrastructure and are focusing on building new infrastructure where it is needed. New towers will need to be placed in different areas to ensure that the first responder network can be supported all across the country.
Sambar also discussed FirstNet’s National Disaster Recovery (NDR) Team and how AT&T intends to support it in his statement. This 25-year-old response team is dedicated to bringing cell service as quickly as possible back to areas that have been hit by a disaster where towers have been damaged or knocked out completely. AT&T will provide full-time and volunteer members to this team, and will help support FirstNet by increasing its fleet with 72 new deployables.
“As we ramp up our buildout of the FirstNet network, we are hiring people across the country who have a passion for public safety and for first responders,” said Sambar.
On March 30th, FirstNet and AT&T first went public with their partnership to implement a broadband network that would be for first responders. On June 19th, the State Plans were revealed, and from there, governors have 45 days to review these plans before a 90-day period begins for these to states to opt in/opt out of the plan. States such as Wyoming and Virginia have already decided to opt-in, and the next step is to start deploying the technology needed for this broadband network.
If a state decides to opt-out, they must provide an alternative plan to the FCC for its approval. The state will have the responsibility to build their own RAN and run it for the next 25 years—and it needs to be within FirstNet and AT&T guidelines.
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