Three months after cementing their partnership, FirstNet and AT&T are handing over network plans to the states.
The plans were distributed three months ahead of schedule on Monday via FirstNet’s online portal for review and approval by state officials. Specs for three of the 56 territories – including Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas Islands – remain outstanding. FirstNet Chief Customer Officer Rich Reed said that’s because conversations about those plans are still ongoing; the final documents will be released to those territories as soon as an actionable agreement is reached.
Though FirstNet President TJ Kennedy said states are expected to fully vet the proposals (possibly against rival offers from the likes of Rivada) before making a decision whether or not to move forward, he noted FirstNet is “very confident” the “vast majority” will opt-in.
AT&T-FirstNet SVP Chris Sambar indicated FirstNet’s confidence that states will opt-in stems from the “very compelling” plans that have been laid on the table. Though he declined to share pricing, Sambar said the plans offer “tremendous value,” with states paying close to or less than they are today for the emergency services network.
Already 49 states have requested follow up meetings on the heels of a kickoff meeting held last week, with 30 of those scheduled to take place in the next two weeks, FirstNet officials said Monday. Sambar said AT&T is ready to get cracking on construction, noting work orders will be generated as soon as states opt-in to the build. The preemption capability – also known as “ruthless preemption” – that will give responders priority access to the network whenever they need it is set to go live by the end of this year, he added.
Elaborating on how AT&T will handle indoor coverage – a particular issue for first responders – Sambar noted the carrier already has “thousands” of distributed antenna systems (DAS) installed in businesses throughout the country. First responders will have access to those, and AT&T is planning to expand coverage to additional buildings as requested, he indicated.
In terms of disaster preparedness, Sambar said AT&T’s network is already built to “earthquake standards,” but added that the carrier will address requests for additional hardening and resiliency with states in the plans and during the 45-day comment period.
Filed Under: Infrastructure