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FirstNet Goes Live

AT&T said FirstNet has gone live, timed to the one-year anniversary of the telco securing the contract for the public-private interactive broadband emergency communications network funded with FCC auction proceeds.

The telco said it has delivered the core network -- tabbed the "brain and nervous system" -- of the network to the First Responder Network Authority and first responders can start to move to the core net under a "controlled" rollout by AT&T. 

In blogging about what he called a "monumental" milestone, FirstNet CTO Jeff Bratcher said FirstNet would continue to test the core, including measuring redundancy under various conditions, and validate its "performance and resiliency" to make sure the network "will be there when public safety needs it." 

Related: FirstNet Secures Final Approval 

He said final testing is expected to be completed by May. 

“The launch of the network core comes a year into the FirstNet public-private partnership,” said AT&T SVP of FirstNet Chris Sambar. “It’s been a non-stop 12 months. And we’re proud of the quick progress we’ve made in this short timeframe, consistently delivering on or ahead of schedule. But bringing the FirstNet network core to life is one of the most exciting milestones yet.” 

FirstNet was created in the legislation that authorized the FCC's broadcast incentive auction and was funded by proceeds from the FCC's AWS-3 auction, and would have been funded with incentive auction money had the AWS-3 auction not more than covered the cost. 

Back in March 2017, AT&T won the multi-billion dollar, 25-year contract to build and maintain FirstNet, which was proposed by the 911 Commission well over a decade ago following first responder communication failures during the World Trade Center rescue efforts. 

"AT&T may have made an announcement today but nothing is live for customers," said a spokesperson for Verizon, which is offering a competing emergency network. "That will come later in the year. Conversely, Verizon's public safety private core is open for business."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.