U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Announces FirstNet Public-Private Partnership


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Today, the Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced the selection of AT&T to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to America’s first responders. This record-breaking public-private partnership to build a $46.5 billion wireless broadband network for America’s first responders will modernize emergency communications infrastructure, saving lives, protecting communities, and creating jobs.

This public-private partnership is a significant investment in the communications infrastructure that public safety desperately needs for day-to-day operations, disaster response and recovery, and securing of large events. It will also make 20 MHz of prime broadband spectrum available for private-sector development.

The broad terms of this 25-year agreement between FirstNet and AT&T are:

  • FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of high-value, telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the Network build out – FirstNet’s funding was raised from previous FCC spectrum auctions;
  • AT&T will spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate and maintain the network, with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety;
  • Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets, valued at more than $180 billion.

The ability to communicate seamlessly across jurisdictions is critical for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) when securing large events or responding to emergencies and disasters. In those instances, networks can become overloaded and inaccessible, limiting responders’ use of vital communication technologies, such as smartphones and applications dedicated to public safety services.

That will change with a high-speed network built specifically for the millions of public safety users in all 50 states, 5 U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, including those serving rural communities and tribal lands. The Network will modernize first responders’ communications and deliver specialized features that are not available to them on wireless. This innovative public-private partnership will create more than 10,000 new jobs and ensure public safety has a voice in the growth and evolution of the Network. In addition, FirstNet and AT&T will maximize the resources they are bringing to the partnership to create a financially self-sustaining network. FirstNet addresses a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission regarding communications used by police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. The public safety community advocated for and endorsed passage of legislation for the wireless broadband network.

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning everyone. Before we get started, I want to make an announcement.

This morning, we have made affirmative final determinations that steel producers in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan are dumping carbon and alloy cut-to-length steel plate into the United States. Margins in the dumping investigations ranged from 3.62 percent to 148.02 percent. Commerce also found that Korea is providing unfair subsidies to its producers of steel plate at a countervailing duty rate of 4.31 percent. As a result of these final affirmative determinations, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits based on these final rates.

In 2015, imports of cut length steel plate from these countries totaled nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in value, so I am glad that we can bring relief to this industry as it struggles with the problem of global overcapacity and dumping. A healthy steel industry is critical to our economy and manufacturing base, yet our steel industry today is under assault from foreign producers that dump and subsidize their exports. We stand here unequivocally committed to the vigorous enforcement of America’s trade laws and to ensuring American workers and businesses are treated fairly.

But now, back to the important and exciting task at hand: FirstNet.

Chairman Walden, members of Congress, Chairman PIE, FirstNet Board members, members of the first responder community, Mr. Stephensen, and honored guests. Thank you all for being here for the important announcement of this record-breaking 46.5 billion dollar public-private partnership. First off, I would like us all to take a moment to recognize all the public safety personnel here in attendance. Our country would be far less safe without your vigilance and dedication.

When terrorism struck our shores on September 11th, 2001, our nation was in shock as flaws in our national security were exposed. In the wake of this tragedy, our nation resolved to never again let such lapses occur. With the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, we began the task of building a more secure society, taking concrete steps to shield American citizens. However, one vital element outlined by the 9/11 Commission remains unfinished: to establish and operate a dedicated public safety broadband network that equips first responders with the latest technology to save lives and to protect our communities.

The administration is now prepared to deliver on the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation. As you can probably guess from who I am joined by on stage, today, it is my honor this morning to announce the public-private partnership between FirstNet and AT&T to build this network. The network will provide services in both urban and rural areas to over 60,000 public safety agencies across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and tribal lands. The partnership will invest 46.5 billion dollars in our economy; it will create 10,000 jobs in the first 2 years and tens of thousands over the term of the 25-year contract; it will spur private sector innovation in telecommunications and public safety; and, most importantly, it will change an untenable status quo by providing first responders with the tools they need to keep us safe.

Today is a landmark day for public safety across the Nation and is a prime example of the incredible progress we can make through public-private partnerships. Thank you to our colleagues in the Office of Management and Budget and the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice for your commitment to this project. I would especially like to thank Chairman Walden, who with Jay Rockefeller helped first get this project off the ground. Thank you also to the members of the FirstNet board for their hard work.

Those members are: Chairwoman Susan Swenson, Vice Chairman Jeff Johnson (retired Fire Chief in Tualatin Valley, Oregon; CEO Western Fire Chiefs Association), OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Homeland Security General Kelly, Chris Burbank (retired Salt Lake City Chief of Police), Neil E. Cox, former Vermont Governor James H. Douglas, Edward Horowitz, Kevin McGinnis, former Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker, Ed Reynolds, Sheriff Richard Stanek (Sheriff of Hennepin County, Minnesota), Teri Takai (former CIO of the states of California and Michigan).

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this partnership.

Thank you.

Secretary Ross's Announcement Regarding Dedicated Public Safety Public Safety Broadband Network

On March 30, 2017, the Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) announced the selection of AT&T to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to America’s first responders. Speakers at the announcement event included Secretary Wilbur Ross, Congressman Greg Walden, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, FirstNet board members and public safety officers and first responders.
File Download Secretary Ross's Announcement Regarding Dedicated Public Safety Public Safety Broadband Network (297.68 MB)

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Last updated: 2017-10-24 14:55

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