While it wasn’t exactly the world’s best kept secret, yesterday we learned who will be building and managing FirstNet. AT&T has been selected for the job, backed up by a team that includes Motorola, General Dynamics, Sapient Consulting, and Inmarsat. And what a job it will be.
FirstNet will be a national broadband wireless network created for the use of first responders. Some 20Mhz of spectrum contributed by FirstNet will form the backbone of the access side of the network, over which first responders will be able to communicate via voice and data more reliably and in greater detail than ever before. Just having it in place could provide a lattice upon which IoT and other new technologies can really start to change things. At least that’s the idea, first laid out after 9/11 more than a decade and a half ago.
The contract is valued at $46.5B over 25 years. AT&T expects to spend $40B in capex and opex during that period. FirstNet will provide $6.5B over the next five years to build out the network, with 10,000 jobs to be created along the way, albeit temporarily for many of those I’m sure.
Those are some pretty big numbers for something I haven’t paid much attention to over the years. I guess I had in my mind that the network would be a bit more… virtual, simply leveraging existing infrastructure somehow. Since it’s not, I wonder how we’ll see all that spending trickle down through the network into those who specialize in wireless backhaul and such.
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