AT&T signed a new task order with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for building out 700 MHz band 14 in all 56 states and territories. AT&T executives said the carrier has already begun buildout in most states, but the new task order formalizes the next step in AT&T’s year-old agreement with FirstNet to build a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).
The carrier has nearly 30,000 FirstNet subscribers from more than 350 agencies across more than 40 states and territories. The network connections range from smartphones to in-vehicle modems.
The majority of the subscribers are agency paid versus bring your own device (BOYD) subscribers. A controlled BYOD launch is planned by the end of the month. The carrier’s systems used for public-safety agencies are different than those used for individual subscribers, so the BYOD launch will be separate, said Chris Sambar, AT&T FirstNet senior vice president.
“We’re pretty thrilled about where the adoption is so far,” he said.
The overall market for primary users is 3.5 million devices, including smartphones, vehicles modems, tablets and other devices, while extended primary users number 11 million to 11.5 million devices.
“Over time, the number expands because you will have an officer with more than one device,” Sambar said.
AT&T plans to have band 14 on one-third of its cell sites by the end of this year with 95 percent of the U.S. population eventually covered by the dedicated public-safety spectrum. Industry researchers estimate AT&T has about 80,000 macrocell sites nationwide. All new sites will have band 14, Sambar said.