AT&T is helping state governments get dedicated emergency LTE networks

firstnet att emergency network fireman in field
Update: We’ve clarified that eight states have issued requests for proposals for their own networks — not opted out of FirstNet.

Internet connectivity isn’t just about browsing Facebook or watching cat videos — it can also be extremely helpful for first responders in emergency situations. Now, first responders will have access to a more reliable network with AT&T and  FirstNet.

The two companies inked a deal to work together earlier in 2017 and now the project is starting to move ahead — meaning first responders will have their own dedicated LTE network in the near future. At this point, the two companies are approaching state governments with plans on rolling out FirstNet and what the states will end up getting. According to FirstNet, not only will the rollout of the network create a dedicated network for first responders, but it will also create thousands of jobs around the country.

“When we announced our public-private partnership in March, we committed to begin building this unprecedented network and technology ecosystem for public safety later this year,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T-FirstNet, in a statement. “Later begins now. States, territories and public safety have expressed their desire to move quickly. That’s what we’re helping to enable today.”

States and local governments now have 45 days to review the plans and sign up to the new network, after which a 90-day clock will start for states to make their final opt-in/opt-out decision.

Of course, not all states will take on the new plan — and a number of companies, including Nokia and Intel, have offered to work with states that choose to opt out of FirstNet. In fact, according to a report from Engadget, so far eight states have issued Requests for Proposals for their own networks, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve opted out, it does mean they’re at least thinking of moving in a different direction.

Still, FirstNet and AT&T’s efforts are impressive, and if all goes according to plan responders in locations that opt into FirstNet will have their network up and running by the end of the year. AT&T has also signed on to maintain the network for 25 years — so this is definitely a long-term solution.

This is not the first time first responders are using tech to improve their service. In Europe, first responders have taken to using drones and European regulators even formed a partnership with Waze to allow users to quickly and easily share information about issues they might encounter on the road.

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