FirstNet, AT&T make commitments to Congress on volunteer pricing, devices, finances
Volunteer public-safety officers subscribing to FirstNet in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) scenario will realize “significant” monthly savings when compared to a traditional commercial wireless offering, an AT&T official said yesterday during a Senate subcommittee hearing.
Chris Sambar, senior vice president for AT&T-FirstNet, said the BYOD scenario is applicable to the “vast majority” of volunteer firefighters and 70% of police officers.
“We are going to make available the FirstNet network to all of those first responders,” Sambar said during the hearing, which was webcast. “Regardless whether you are volunteer, whether you agency provides you a device, or you bring your own device, they will have access to the FirstNet network.
“Once we verify their credentials and ensure that we have the right people on the network, they will have access to the FirstNet network, with all of those features and benefits—and, it will come at a significantly lower price than they are paying today for their personal or commercial service. So, it’s a tremendous benefit to all first responders.”
In response to a question from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sambar said AT&T “absolutely” would maintain “a level playing field” for device manufacturers interested in developing solutions for public-safety users.
The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) yesterday released a report that called for FirstNet to expand staffing for long-term oversight of nationwide contractor AT&T and enhance its outreach to tribal nations impacted by the deployment of the FirstNet system—recommendations that FirstNet official have accepted, according to FirstNet CEO Mike Poth.
Poth noted that FirstNet’s agreement with AT&T is structured in a manner that FirstNet has achieved the financial-sustainability goal established by Congress when FirstNet was established in 2012.
“This independent authority [FirstNet] is not going to come back to Congress and ask for additional funds—ever,” Poth said during the hearing.