AT&T bags 25-year wireless broadband contract for first responders

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson image by BloombergTelecom operator AT&T has bagged a 25-year contract for constructing a wireless broadband network to enable first responders during emergencies in the U.S.

FirstNet, an independent arm of the Department of Commerce, will provide the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier with 20 megahertz of telecom spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years.

“FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring coverage for public safety.

AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets, valued at more than $180 billion.

This partnership will create more than 10,000 new jobs.

“This is an unprecedented public-private investment in infrastructure that makes America a leader and public safety a national priority,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO.

Among the bidders for the contract was a consortium formed by wireless network operator Rivada Networks. The consortium – Rivada Mercury – includes Intel, Fujitsu, Ericsson, Nokia and Harris Corp.

The FirstNet network will cover all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including rural communities and tribal lands in those states and territories — and serve more than 320 million people across the U.S.

First responders use more than 10,000 networks for voice communications. These networks often do not interoperate, which severely limits their ability to communicate with each other when responding to a situation.

AT&T has assembled a team that includes Motorola Solutions, General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting and Inmarsat Government.

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