AT&T has 40 MHz of unused spectrum—in the AWS and WCS bands—in addition to the 20 MHz of Band 14 700 MHz spectrum it will be allowed to use via the FirstNet deal. As AT&T executes the Band 14 system buildout, its crews also will deploy systems on the other 40 MHz of fallow spectrum—a big advantage to the carrier, Stephenson said.

“We have another 40 MHz of spectrum we're ready to put to use,” Stephenson said. “To put it to use, you’ve got to put people up on cell towers—every cell tower across the country—and light up all that spectrum.

“You're going to be sending people up all these cell sites to deploy the FirstNet network. While they're on the cell sites, turn up the other 40 megahertz of spectrum. That was a really important benefit to us, as well.”

Stephenson said that AT&T officials are “enthusiastic” about serving the first-responder community, which he described as an “area where we’re underpenetrated.” In addition, AT&T hopes that serving public safety via FirstNet will help the carrier in its efforts to provide smart-cities offerings to local jurisdictions, he said.

“Now, think about the first-responder community,” Stephenson said. “You've gone out, and you put everything—from calling all cars to body cameras and car cameras and so forth—to work. That becomes, if you will, an anchor tenant for smart connected cities, and we are in working with cities. You’ve got the technology turned up for the first-responder community. Just beginning to move that into the connected-city environment, we think is a really great opportunity for us, as well.

“So, there are many layers to [FirstNet] that got us motivated and wanting to pursue this—and the more we got into it, the more enthusiastic we got.”