As a 9/11-Inspired Emergency Network Nears, Some States May Go Rogue

Governing: If the feds build it, will the states come?

The field of dreams in question is the highly touted First Responder Network Authority. Also known as FirstNet, the system was conceived in the wake of 9/11 as a solution to the radio communications failures that plagued first responders at the height of the tragedy. FirstNet is supposed to give police and fire personnel a seamless, state-of-the-art, high-speed voice and data communications system.

Sixteen years later, FirstNet is closer to becoming a reality. Earlier this year, the authority announced a partnership with AT&T to build the first responder network, which has received $6.5 billion in federal funding and is expected to cost about $40 billion over the life of the 25-year contract. FirstNet and AT&T sent states a draft plan in June that describes what the next-generation technology can offer first responders, as well as the cost for using the network. States can opt out if they choose and find another vendor to build a similar system.

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