The governing board for the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) has approved network reinvestments of $547 million for its fiscal year 2024, focused on increasing coverage and transitioning FirstNet to a full 5G network.
FirstNet says that as of the end of 2023, it now has more than 5.5 million public safety/first responder connections via the AT&T-built network, and serves 27,500 public safety agencies.
The FirstNet network’s initial five-year build-out plan with AT&T was completed at the end of last year, with the network covering more than 2.91 million square miles and a fleet of deployable assets available to help with emergency response, disaster recovery or planned large events. With that initial coverage established, the board’s focus has now turned to both additional coverage extensions and making sure that the network keeps pace with available mobile technology.
Chief Richard Carrizzo, board chair of the FirstNet Authority, said, “With the initial buildout now complete, we are focused on continuing the growth and evolution of the network, based on public safety’s evolving needs.” He called this year’s efforts “a major investment in public safety and the next generation” of the FirstNet network.
“We are accelerating the evolution of FirstNet’s 5G capabilities and making sure the network continues to deliver the innovation and reliability that first responders need, now and in the future,” said Joe Wassel, the FirstNet Authority’s executive director and CEO.
The investments align with the FirstNet Authority’s Roadmap, which outlines the key priorities and activities for evolving the network for public safety. The FirstNet Authority established investment principles to further guide the decision-making process for its investments and to ensure they benefit public safety operations.