All 50 States, D.C., Opt in to FirstNet

RESTON, VA.—FirstNet is officially a nation-wide service, as all 50 states, two U.S. territories and Washington D.C. joined the public safety wireless broadband network before the window closed on Dec. 28.

The FirstNet network was developed after Congress passed legislation in 2012 to create a system for enhancing communications during emergencies and other events. The network has a public-private partnership with AT&T to provide first responders with access to mission-critical capabilities over the FirstNet network. This includes priority and preemption features for a “fast lane” on the public safety network for first responders.

Three U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands—will still have the opportunity to opt in by March 12.

In addition, FirstNet has laid out some milestones and activities it expects to occur in 2018. The first will be the issuing of work orders to deploy FirstNet in all 50 states, D.C. and the two territories in early 2018, as well as deploy Band 14 capacity and coverage throughout the country. There will also be the launch of the FirstNet App store, with FirstNet-approved mobile apps designed for public safety use over the first responder network. FirstNet subscribers will also have access to a Security Operations Center for 24/7 support. Lastly, the First Responder Network Authority plans to continue to engage with states, territories, federal agencies and tribal nations to ensure the network meets their needs and incorporates their feedback.

The First Responder Network Authority expects FirstNet to be fully operational by March.