Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced her decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public safety community that will bring advanced tools to help Alabama’s first responders save lives and protect communities.
AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Alabama’s public safety community at no cost to the state. The FirstNet network will drive innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders.
Cherokee County EMA Director Shawn Rogers said “This will greatly assist our county’s first responders with providing effective, efficient services to the residents of Cherokee County by allowing increased communications capabilities during times of a disaster”.
Following an in-depth evaluation of the proposed AT&T and FirstNet plan, as well as proposals by other potential vendors, Alabama selected the FirstNet and AT&T public-private partnership, bringing public safety the overall best value solution with the least risk.
FirstNet will transform the way Alabama’s firefighters; police, emergency medical services (EMS) and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. Specifically, it will:
- Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events like college football games, which attract more than 100,000 fans to home games at some of the larger universities in the state.
- Provide priority access to data communications for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state during natural disasters, such as the 2011 Super Outbreak that produced a record number of tornadoes in the state.
- Enhance and expand network coverage across Alabama’s diverse landscape, benefitting first responders and residents throughout the state’s rural areas, including mountainous and tribal lands.
- Provide first responders with access to dedicated network assets that can be deployed for additional coverage and support when needed.
- Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.
- Usher in a new wave of dependable innovations for first responders. This will create an ever-evolving set of life-saving tools for public safety, including public safety apps, specialized devices and Internet of Things technologies. It also carries the potential for future integration with NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities’ infrastructure.
FirstNet and AT&T designed Alabama’s network solution with direct input from the state and its public safety community, including the Alabama First Responder Wireless Commission (AFRWC) who, on Sept. 21st, voted unanimously in a special-called meeting to send an “opt-in” letter of recommendation to Governor Ivey.
The AFRWC is comprised of multiple state, local, and tribal public safety organizations and professional associations. The Commission is chaired by Secretary Hal Taylor of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. By working closely with the AFRWC, FirstNet and AT&T crafted a plan to meet Alabama’s unique communications needs, including:
- Expanding rural coverage beyond what is currently available from commercial carriers.
- Offering affordable data services to public safety across the state.
- Delivering a network for public safety with continuing expansive geographical coverage and increasing redundancy and resiliency.
The decision enables FirstNet and AT&T to begin creating an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications. Alabama’s first responder AT&T subscribers will have immediate access to quality of service and priority access to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network.
Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means first responder subscribers, including fire and rescue services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency management and 9-1-1 personnel, will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365, like their mission.