AT&T’s Kapoor reiterated the fact that the carrier’s FirstNet bid will provide public-safety subscribers with access to AT&T’s vast commercial network—on a priority basis initially, with plans to transition to preemption near the end of this year—on myriad spectrum bands as soon as a governor accepts the FirstNet state plan.

“That is sort of the cool part of what we’re offering,” Kapoor said. “By the end of this year, the first set of functionalities start to come out, and public safety does not have to wait for the entire five years for the [Band 14 system] build.

“We’ll start bringing them on our regular bands and offer them the preemption and all of the capabilities, so that they ride above everyone else. They can do that on our regular networks, while we build the Band 14 network out. Once we build that, then we start to switch them over; but meanwhile, they get the preemption and priority on our regular bands.”

Kapoor credited FirstNet and the U.S. Department of Commerce for designing an RFP that allows the contractor to sell commercial services on the NPSBN’s bandwidth capacity that is not being used by first responders at a particular moment in time.

“We have pledged that we will keep public safety whole at all times,” she said. “But, beyond those service-level agreements we have signed to keep them whole, the rest of the spectrum—instead of it just sitting idle—we would be using it for our commercial use. That’s the value to us.”

Kapoor said that the carrier’s new public-sector unit will be charged with selling services to local, state and federal government and educational entities. FirstNet packages are expected to be a key component of AT&T’s offering, but packages also can include services related to next-generation 911 (NG911), the Internet of Things (IoT) and other smart-technology initiatives.

AT&T’s public-sector unit will leverage products created in other parts of the company, but it will notify and encourage development of solutions that meet the needs of government customers—particularly as they relate to characteristics associated with reliability, resiliency, certifications and cybersecurity, Kapoor said.