FirstNet Authority releases initial investment Roadmap at APCO 2019
BALTIMORE—FirstNet Authority board Chairman Ed Horowitz today announced the release of the new Roadmap that is designed to guide the organization’s investment decisions to evolve the FirstNet public-safety broadband network being built by AT&T.
Horowitz made the announcement during a speech during a breakfast gathering at the APCO 2019 event, noting that the end product is the result of input from thousands of public-safety representatives who shared their thoughts during hundreds of meetings with FirstNet Authority staff members.
“Taken together, we’ve created an action plan that’s taken us to this point, that we’ve now created a Roadmap,” Horowitz said, joking that the “ink is still wet” on the document. “Within that, you’ll see what our priorities are going to be for the next few years and where we intend to put our dollars going forward, as we reinvest into the network around the six technology domains that are so important.”
A copy of the FirstNet Authority Roadmap can be downloaded at https://firstnet.gov/network/roadmap.
According to a press release from the FirstNet Authority, those six technology domains are:
- Network Core—provides the essential intelligence for the functioning of the network The Core is foundational to the network, and the FirstNet Authority envisions the Core evolving to remain technologically current;
- Coverage and Capacity—enables robust and ubiquitous access to the network;
- Situational Awarenes—envisions real-time access, collection, and distribution of critical information;
- Voice Communications—envisions high-quality, reliable voice communications nationwide working seamlessly across analog and digital platforms;
- Secure Information Exchange—envisions the ability to access, exchange, and manage data securely and conveniently within and across public safety agencies and jurisdictions; and
- User Experience—seeks to ensure interfaces are designed for specific public safety users’ operational challenges.
While the Roadmap outlines the areas that the FirstNet Authority is considering for investment, the final decisions regarding the investment of an estimated $15 billion during the 25-year contract with AT&T rest with the FirstNet Authority board. Horowitz has said that he believes that investing in the dedicated FirstNet LTE core—in preparation for 5G—and deployable solutions are prime candidates for the initial investment round.
In September, the FirstNet Authority board could approve the expenditure of as much as $78 million. The board also will meet on Thursday conference call, presumably to discuss budget issues.
The money to fund investment initiatives will come from AT&T. Under the FirstNet arrangement, AT&T gains access to the 20 MHz of Band 14 spectrum licensed to the FirstNet Authority and has the potential to receive $6.5 billion by executing all network-deployment milestones in a timely manner.
In addition to building and maintaining the system, AT&T must make payments to the FirstNet Authority that total $18 billion during the 25-year contract period.
This arrangement is designed to ensure that the FirstNet Authority will remain financial sustainable throughout the life of the contract, which was awarded to AT&T in March 2017. AT&T has told financial analysts that it expects about $3 billion of these AT&T payments will fund the FirstNet Authority’s operations during the 25-year contract period and that AT&T would receive the other $15 billion, although that is not guaranteed by law.