FBI expands its use of FirstNet, names AT&T for mobility services
Approximate $92M agreement is largest commitment to FirstNet by a public safety agency.
RESTON, Va. — The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is expanding its usage of FirstNet, awarding AT&T a mobility contract for additional FirstNet capabilities to support the FBI’s day-to-day and emergency operations. The agreement, valued at approximately $92 million, is the largest commitment to FirstNet by a law enforcement or public safety agency.
FirstNet, built by AT&T, is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. It gives first responders always-on, 24-hours-a-day priority and preemption across voice and data. The preemption capability is key. During an emergency, if network resources are scarce or unavailable, it will automatically push non-emergency users to other bands of spectrum to allow critical law enforcement resources, like the FBI, to maintain access to their voice and data. The FBI will access FirstNet using FirstNet Ready devices such as smartphones, air cards, modems and more.
What are some of the other DOJ agencies that will have access to FirstNet?
Several DOJ agencies have been using FirstNet, including the Antitrust Division; Drug Enforcement Administration; Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys; Justice Management Division; U.S. Attorneys; U.S. Marshals Service; and The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was the was the first federal agency to fully adopt FirstNet in 2018 with approximately 4,800 users.
Under the FBI’s new agreement with AT&T, these DOJ agencies can expand their usage of FirstNet while others can choose to begin benefitting from it.
What differentiates FirstNet?
FirstNet is built by AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government. The FirstNet network is providing public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it, unique benefits like always-on priority and preemption, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum. These advanced capabilities enable FirstNet to perform faster than any commercial network1 and help fire, EMS and law enforcement save lives and protect their communities.
As of September 30, 2020, there were more than 14,000 public safety agencies and organizations across the country – representing more than 1.7 million FirstNet connections – subscribed to FirstNet. Federal, state and local public safety agencies have been using FirstNet for fast, highly reliable interoperable communications to support their work related to the coronavirus pandemic as well as fires, floods and other natural disasters.
Due to communications challenges during the response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Commission recommended the establishment of a single, interoperable network for public safety. For years, public safety organizations lobbied Congress to make this recommendation a reality. Therefore, when Congress established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in 2012, it based its mission on public safety’s express concerns and desires.
To truly design the FirstNet network for public safety by public safety – a distinction that makes it unique in American telecommunications history – FirstNet continuously consults with local, state/territory, tribal and federal public safety agencies across the country.
Over the past several years, FirstNet has collaborated with public safety stakeholders and leadership from each state and territory. Never before has the public safety community had the opportunity to provide input towards the creation of a nationwide broadband network tailored specifically to meet their needs as they save lives and protect communities across the nation.