FirstNet deployment passes 65% threshold, connections top 750,000 for almost 9,000 agencies, AT&T says
Planned FirstNet deployment on 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum is more than 65% complete, and the nationwide public-safety broadband network is providing more than 750,000 connections to almost 9,000 public-safety agencies, according to the AT&T official leading the carrier’s FirstNet initiative.
Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president for the FirstNet program, said that the carrier appears to be well on its way to meeting the company’s goal of finishing 70% of the contracted FirstNet buildout by the end of the year. AT&T officials said that the FirstNet deployment was 60% complete as of the end of June, reaching that threshold nine months ahead of the schedule in the contract with the FirstNet Authority.
“We’re now at over 65%,” Sambar said yesterday during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications at the APCO 2019 event in Baltimore. “I can’t talk prospectively, but we did 5% in a month, so you can probably guess that things are going well.”
As part of the state plans that are included in the FirstNet Authority’s contract with AT&T committed to building 1,000 new sites to extend its network coverage. Although only a handful have been announced publicly to date, AT&T has deployed “hundreds” of these cell sites, most of which are located in rural areas, Sambar said.
From an adoption standpoint, Sambar said that AT&T officials are “really pleased with the progress” to reach 750,000 connections. Also notable is a shift in the makeup of FirstNet. Early in the FirstNet cycle, most users of were existing AT&T customers that migrated to the FirstNet offering, but that has not been the case in 2019, according to Sambar.
“The percentage of new customers to migrations flip-flopped at the beginning of the year,” he said.” It used to be mostly migrations last year, and now it’s mostly new customers … coming from other carriers or they never had a phone in their agency.
“Since the end of last year, greater than 50% are new.”