The future of America’s first nationwide broadband network for firefighters, police and other first responders is at a critical moment this summer. States are deciding whether to build their own, join the big federal solution or do nothing. It’s not an easy decision for governors.
Fifteen years ago, following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the 9/11 Commission found that the communications network serving our nation’s first responders was subpar and had to be improved. After a decade of standard bureaucratic delays and bottlenecks, Congress formally created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) in 2012 and authorized $7 billion in dedicated funding.
The intended goal of the agency was to provide an interoperable communications network for our nation’s public safety that would promote competition, provide substantial rural coverage, and become self-sustaining.