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AT&T Pushes Ahead with FirstNet, Invests $40 million in Vermont

Wednesday, July 17, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Couture

AT&T announced that it has invested nearly $40 million in its Vermont wireless networks during 2016-2018. These investments boost reliability, coverage, speed and overall performance for residents and businesses. They've also improved critical services that support Public Safety and first responders using the FirstNet communications platform.

Building upon its current and planned investments in Vermont, including $25 million in federal funding, AT&T continues to extend the reach and increase the capacity of the FirstNet communications platform:

  • Deployed Band 14 spectrum in more than 600 markets nationwide, including communities like Burlington, Bennington, Dover, Morrisville and Waterford.

  • Band 14 is high-quality spectrum provided by the First Responder Network Authority. Its signal covers larger geographic areas with less infrastructure to better support rural communities, and it can better reach in-building in more urban areas as compared to higher-MHz spectrum.

  • Vermont first responders enjoy the fastest overall experience on FirstNet, compared to any commercial network in the nation, thanks to the specialized capabilities enabled by the physically separate and dedicated FirstNet network core, like always-on priority and preemption.

Public safety agencies subscribed to FirstNet have 24/7 access  to a nationwide fleet of 75 deployable network assets. These assets can either be deployed for planned events or called upon in emergencies to help first responders stay connected and operate faster, safer and more effectively when lives are on the line.

FirstNet is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority  – an independent agency within the federal government. This helps ensure that the FirstNet communications platform and service offerings meet the short- and long-term needs of the public safety community.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was created by Congress in 2012, following recommendations from the 9/11 commission. FirstNet was given the mission of building, deploying and operating the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network with spectrum dedicated to public safety.

In Vermont, the Public Safety Broadband Network Commission (PSBC) was formed by Governor’s Executive Order in 2013 to act as a guiding group to prepare for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).

On November 29, 2017, Governor Phil Scott announced his decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state's public safety community. This decision followed a recommendation made earlier in November by the PSBC that Vermont allow FirstNet/AT&T to build the network, rather than the state working to build its own. At the end of the national decision period for states, every state and territory choose to opt-in to the federal FirstNet plan.

AT&T has until 2022 to fulfill its commitment to build 36 new tower sites in Vermont. Six of the new tower sites are in Essex County and will be built via a partnership with Great North Woods Wireless. Construction of the Essex County sites will begin in 2019, with plans for the sites to be on air by the end of 2020 or sooner.

As last reported in the PSBC October newsletter, more than half of the new tower sites are being built at locations where there currently is no cell tower. AT&T has contacted landowners at all of the new tower sites and continues work on the engineering process.

Currently, AT&T forecasts that seven new FirstNet sites will be activated in 2019. Additionally, AT&T continues to develop its existing commercial network. They forecast that three new commercial sites will be on-air by the end of this year. All of these sites will have FirstNet capabilities.

Read more: Vermont Business Magazine.