Indiana is one of 25 states to approve FirstNet, a subscription-based communication network for public safety and first responders. The plan, offered nationwide by AT&T, will build high-speed, wireless communication infrastructure at no cost to taxpayers.
“Indiana’s first responders need fast, accurate information to keep Hoosiers safe,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. “This new communications network will help those on the front lines coordinate better and faster to serve and protect our citizens and communities.”
AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards says the idea behind the FirstNet program originated from recommendations of the 9/11 Commission who said the country needed a nationwide public safety network.
"This is the kind of network that public safety officials all across the country have been asking for for years," said Soards. "They need to be able to share information and receive information in critical times of emergencies. Increasingly those are on their mobile devices. Whether it is a smartphone, tablet or in the future, Internet of Things related devices."
According to Soards, in order to support the efficacy of the FirstNet network, the federal government has offered up a significant amount of radio spectrum, while AT&T has invested $40 billion nationally to help expand and grow cellular towers, including small cells. Something Soards says is one of the added benefits, particularly for rural communities throughout Indiana.
"The goal of the FirstNet project is to get the public safety and first responders all the tools they need," said Soards. "To do that we need to make new investments in more antennas and more cell towers, and small cells all across the state of Indiana both in rural and and in urban districts. So the ancillary benefit of that is that there will be benefits to rural broadband availability, and public safety is just the driving force."
FirstNet services will be available in Indiana before the end of the year.