FirstNet Opt-Ins Exceed One-Third of Country

AT&T is building multibillion-dollar net

According toFirstNet, 20 states and territories, or more than a third of those who could, have now opted in to the interoperable first-responder communications network.

The network is being managed byAT&Tin a public-private partnership with AT&T getting access to the spectrum and FirstNet getting priority use of that spectrum and AT&T's network in times of emergency. AT&T secured a 25-year, multibillion-dollar contract to build and maintain the net.

States can opt out of the FirstNet state plan and come up with their own alternative with another partner—a point Verizon has made—but they must be interoperable with FirstNet.

The latest to sign on are Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee.

"The FirstNet network is the only wireless, broadband network specially designed through consultation and feedback from public safety to ensure it meets their current and future technology needs," FirstNet points out.

It also says it will update state plans this month, with refinements in response to input from stakeholders.

FirstNet state plans will have some competition.

It is not calling it SecondNet, butVerizon said two weeks agoit is planning to build and operate a core public safety communications network.

Incomments on the proceduresfor states' ability to opt out of the FirstNet plan,Verizontold the FCC that it would "provide reliable and innovative public safety communications services to state and local governments irrespective of whether states choose to opt out of the FirstNet network."

(Photo viaFirst Responder Network Authority’s Flickr. Image uploaded on Feb. 16, 2017 and used perCreative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 4x3 aspect ratio.)