AT&T said today that it has installed equipment operating in the FirstNet spectrum band on 2,500 cell sites nationwide. The buildout still must be validated by the FirstNet Authority, AT&T said. The FirstNet Authority is the government entity that administers the FirstNet public safety network that AT&T is building nationwide.
Until cell sites are approved for FirstNet operation, public safety users gain priority access on AT&T’s commercial mobile broadband network.
Fifteen hundred public safety agencies have signed on for FirstNet service, accounting for more than 110,000 connections, AT&T said.
FirstNet Spectrum Plans
In addition to the 2,500 cell sites turned up so far, AT&T eventually plans to deploy network equipment operating in the FirstNet spectrum band on more than 10,000 additional cell sites. The majority of this equipment will go on existing AT&T cell sites but the company noted in today’s press release that it will be deploying more than 1,000 new sites to support FirstNet. AT&T pointed to the example of Bedford County, Pa., where the company deployed a new cell site to support FirstNet in response to input from the state’s public safety community.
The terms of AT&T’s contract with the FirstNet Authority call for the carrier to use rural network operators to build portions of the FirstNet network, although the company has not yet made any announcements on that front.
Other highlights from today’s press release:
- The FirstNet spectrum band (Band 14) is operational for testing purposes in more than 40 states.
- Devices capable of operating in Band 14 are available to eligible first responders.
- FirstNet-dedicated deployable network assets, such as the Satellite Cell on Light Truck, are available for deployment at the request of subscribing first responder agencies to boost coverage during large events and emergencies.
AT&T noted that first responders in several markets used FirstNet-dedicated deployable network assets during large Independence Day celebrations.
AT&T won the contract to build the FirstNet network in March of last year. The contract gives the company exclusive use of Band 14 spectrum, which the company can also use for commercial customers when capacity is not needed by public safety users.
As it deploys FirstNet network equipment, AT&T also is deploying other spectrum bands, yielding substantial synergies, according to several company executives, who have touted those synergies at various telecom investor conferences.