March 30 The U.S. Department of Commerce on
Thursday awarded a 25-year contract to AT&T Inc for the
construction of a nationwide wireless broadband network to
better equip first responders during emergencies.
FirstNet, an independent arm of the Department of Commerce,
will provide the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier with 20 megahertz
of telecom spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion
over the next five years.
The effort to set up a public safety network was triggered
by communications failures during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks,
when first responders were unable to effectively communicate as
they used different technologies and networks.
A dedicated public safety broadband network was a
recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.
The network will help emergency medical personnel,
firefighters and police officers communicate vital information
on one single network in real time.
Among the bidders for the contract was a consortium formed
by wireless network operator Rivada Networks, which has former
Florida Governor Jeb Bush on its board. The consortium - Rivada
Mercury - includes Intel Corp, Fujitsu Ltd,
Ericsson, Nokia and Harris Corp.
FirstNet, which stands for First Responder Network
Authority, was formed under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, which had earmarked $7 billion for
building a broadband network.
(Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee and Narottam Medhora in
Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)