Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is the FirstNet network?
What is the First Responder Network Authority?
What is AT&T’s role in the FirstNet network?
How was public safety involved in creating the FirstNet network?
Does FirstNet have mission critical voice capabilities?

Benefits and Features

What are the benefits and features of FirstNet?
How does local control work?

Network and Coverage

Will FirstNet be available in rural parts of the United States?
How can I find out more about FirstNet’s network build-out plans in my state?

Costs

How much does it cost to subscribe to FirstNet?  

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What is the FirstNet network?
The FirstNet network is the first nationwide interoperable wireless network built specifically for and with the input of public safety. The FirstNet network grew out of a 9/11 Commission recommendation that called for improved communications for all U.S. first responders following communications challenges experienced during the response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The FirstNet network represents an unprecedented commitment to build public safety communications upon universal, cutting-edge industry standards, dedicated spectrum, and a device portfolio for all disciplines to ensure interoperability.

What is the First Responder Network Authority?
The First Responder Network Authority is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. It was established by Congress in 2012 with the mission to build, deploy and operate the nationwide broadband network dedicated to America’s public safety community. This mission is a direct result of the 9/11 Commission recommendation and subsequent advocacy efforts spearheaded by public safety stakeholders across the country.

What is AT&T’s role in the FirstNet network?
In March 2017, after a rigorous and competitive public procurement process the First Responder Network Authority selected AT&T as the nationwide public safety broadband network provider. AT&T will construct, deploy, operate and maintain the public safety broadband network through its long-term contract with the First Responder Network Authority. Through this public-private partnership, the First Responder Network Authority is able to leverage federal government funds and AT&T’s assets and nationwide scale to modernize public safety resources and infrastructure while remaining cost-effective.

How was public safety involved in creating the FirstNet network?
Various stakeholders joined together as the Public Safety Alliance to raise awareness in Congress and the White House to advocate for dedicated spectrum to build out a nationwide, interoperable wireless communications network to protect America. These efforts led to the establishment of the First Responder Network Authority, which used first responders’ input and feedback to develop the competitive solicitation and contract for its technology partner.

FirstNet and AT&T engaged in a multi-year consultation process with public safety stakeholders in every state and territory in the nation to gather insight and input into the individual State Plans. This consultation process allowed FirstNet and AT&T to connect with over 1.8 million public safety stakeholders across the country. FirstNet continues to receive input from its Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC), which provides guidance and public safety matter expertise. Public safety will continue to be a close collaborator on the FirstNet network over the course of the 25-year contract term to guarantee that the network is evolving according to the ever changing needs of public safety.

Does FirstNet have mobile voice capabilities?
FirstNet does not have mission critical voice capabilities and should not be used to replace land mobile radios.

What are the benefits and features of FirstNet?
The FirstNet network has an array of benefits for public safety, many that stakeholders have been adamantly asking for years. FirstNet’s close collaboration with the public safety community and oversight by the federal government makes it possible to deliver specialized innovation.

Some benefits include:

  • Priority and Preemption
  • Nationwide Interoperability
  • Exclusive Core and Spectrum Dedicated to Public 
  • Local Control 
  • Exclusive Application Ecosystem

For a more comprehensive overview of FirstNet’s benefits and features please see our “10 Reasons FirstNet is Leading Public Safety Communications into the Future” brochure which is downloadable as a PDF.

Click here for a complete list of FirstNet’s benefits for public safety.

How does local control work?
FirstNet allows public safety agencies to have control over and visibility into the FirstNet network operational status and site conditions. Through a single, home-page location, public safety agencies are able to manage user accounts and devices and manage user priority levels, and adjust them in real-time if needed. The benefit of local control goes behind public safety agencies as well. FirstNet subscribers who are classified as Extended Users i.e. utility, transportation, etc. can be given priority during emergency situations by Primary FirstNet Subscribers (Police, Fire and EMS). This will allow all members of a disaster response team to communicate and coordinate without experiencing congestion on the network.

Will FirstNet be available in rural parts of the United States?
Partnerships with rural wireless carriers will account for more than 20% of FirstNet’s coverage. All rural coverage build-out will be completed by the fifth year of the FirstNet contract. Because FirstNet is a network dedicated to public safety, it has different coverage requirements than a commercial network. With FirstNet, sites will be deployed in areas that normally would have to wait a long time to get a site or would never get a site at all.

Today, AT&T’s voice and data network reaches more than 99% of Americans. The FirstNet network will extend beyond that footprint, into rural areas with less coverage, to further support public safety in emergency situations.

How can I find out more about FirstNet’s network build-out plans in my state?FirstNet and AT&T engaged in a multi-year consultation process with public safety stakeholders in every state and territory in the nation to gather insight and input into the individual State Plans. In December 2017, all fifty (50) states opted into the State Plans developed for the FirstNet network. You can contact your state’s FirstNet Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to learn more about the network’s build-out plan in your state.

Click here to find contact information for the FirstNet SPOC in each state.

How much does it cost to subscribe to FirstNet?
There are different plan options depending on your need for data versus talk and text capability.

Click here to find out more information about FirstNet plan rates.

Speak to a FirstNet specialist online or at an AT&T store.