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Major Expansion for US Emergency Services Network with AT&T

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In an ambitious move to enhance the United States’ emergency services network, AT&T, in partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), has announced plans for a significant upgrade and expansion of FirstNet. This initiative, which could see an investment exceeding $8 billion over the coming decade, aims to build upon the network’s already extensive coverage and capabilities.

FirstNet, which completed its initial five-year development phase last year, currently stands as the nation’s largest network in terms of geographical reach. It spans 2.91 million square miles across all 56 U.S. states and territories, serving approximately 27,500 public safety agencies with over 5.5 million connections.

The next phase of FirstNet’s evolution involves the construction of thousands of new cell sites nationwide, with a goal of deploying 1,000 sites in the next two years alone. This expansion is tailored to enhance coverage in areas identified by public safety agencies as critical, ensuring that first responders across states, territories, and tribal lands have reliable access to the network.

A key component of this next development stage is the introduction of a 5G Standalone (SA) core, specifically designed with public safety features. This upgrade is expected to significantly improve the network’s performance, enabling advanced applications such as high-definition video transmission from drones during search and rescue missions and leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) data for better situational awareness and emergency care.

Moreover, FirstNet will gain access to all of AT&T’s 5G frequencies, in addition to its existing dedicated spectrum. This ensures that first responder communications are prioritized, maintaining critical connectivity even during times of heavy network traffic.

Jim Bugel, president of FirstNet at AT&T, emphasized the importance of the network as a vital infrastructure for public safety, promising continuous enhancements based on feedback from the public safety community. The FirstNet Authority anticipates an initial investment of $6.3 billion through its network contract with AT&T, with discussions underway for an additional $2 billion to further improve coverage.

This strategic investment underscores a commitment to keeping FirstNet at the cutting edge of technology, ensuring that public safety officials have the most reliable and innovative tools at their disposal for smarter, safer, and more effective response efforts.

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