Almost 16 years after a massive communications breakdown on the unfortunate event of 9/11, which had crippled the firefighters and police at Ground Zero, the United States Government on Thursday awarded $6.5 billion contract to AT&T Inc. with valuable airwave to construct a wireless nationwide broadband network. This step was taken to equip first responders in a better manner.
The 9/11 Commission came up with this idea. It happens to be the only report recommended by the bipartisan, which is yet to be implemented. The project is called ‘FirstNet’. Congress has been allocating federal funds for it, but sadly the project has been facing delays and false starts for many years.
Though there were many doubts about the project being built as envisioned, the contract with AT&T Inc. is a big step taken forward to achieve that dream. Many states are still debating whether to take part in FirstNet or construct their own public safety networks systems.
The efforts to build a public safety network system was triggered by the 9/11 communications failure. The first responders were not able to communicate effectively as each team used different networks and technologies.
What this project is meant to do is allow the first responders (like firefighters, police officers, and medical personnel) communicate important information over a signal.
The Congress had set up a team called 9/11 Commission to analyze the attack and suggest ways to prevent such incidents in future. In the year 2004, the team recommended to set up a dedicated public safety network for the first responders.
This network would cover all the states of the U.S, 5 U.S. territories, and Columbia. On Thursday, AT&T said the rollout would begin later this year.
A&T Inc. would be spending around $40 billion over the term of the twenty-five year agreement to construct, operate, and maintain the broadband network.
The term FirstNet stands for ‘First Responder Network Authority’, and was put forward under the ‘Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act’ of 2012. The project had earmarked about $7 billion for constructing a broadband public safety networks system.
AT&T Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer, John Stephens said the telecommunication company is looking forward to build a supreme-quality network for the first responder (law enforcement, fire personals, and medical teams.).
“It’s a great opportunity to serve every citizen,” John said. “Everybody is going to benefit from this because that is who the first responders serve.”
He explained about the network telling that it would help the first responders to share real time videos. For example, they could send a real time video of a medical injury or a wildfire to get expert advice who are miles apart.