Broadband

FirstNet Signs Up Three More States

Brings total to 23 opt-ins 9/20/2017 9:41 AM Eastern

FirstNet, the interoperable first-responder network, has added three more states: Maryland, Idaho and Texas.

That makes 23 states that have opted-in to the framework.

The network is being managed by AT&T in a public-private partnership, with AT&T getting access to the new spectrum allocated for the network and FirstNet getting priority use of that spectrum and AT&T's network in times of emergency.

States can opt out of the FirstNet state plan and come up with their own alternative with another partner—a point Verizon has made in launching its own public safety net — but those alternatives must be interoperable with FirstNet, which was created by Congress at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and funded through FCC spectrum auction proceeds.

First responders are expected to start having access to the system by the end of the year.

Back in March, the Department of Commerce (FirstNet is an independent authority within Commerce) announced AT&T had been awarded the multibillion-dollar, 25-year contract to build and maintain FirstNet, which was proposed well over a decade ago following communication failures during 9/11.

Virginia was the first state to opt-in to the FirstNet plan.

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