Fire Headlines Podcast Icon - Money

$8 Billion FirstNet Investment

March 20, 2024

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AT&T’s recent announcement of a significant 10-year investment exceeding $8 billion in FirstNet has garnered attention. This week, Fire Headlines host Samantha Didion is joined by Chief Jeff Buchanan and former FirstNet Vice Chairman, Chief Jeff Johnson. Chief Johnson, who retired as Fire Chief from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue in Oregon, also served as a Past President of the IAFC and currently holds the role of Executive Director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association. With a broad range of experience in public safety at the local, national, and international levels, Chief Johnson brings valuable insight to this discussion.

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Delve into the origin of FirstNet and the recent investment from AT&T from a former Vice Chairman on Western Fire Chiefs Association’s Fire Headlines Podcast.

AT&T’s recent announcement of a significant 10-year investment exceeding $8 billion in FirstNet has garnered attention. This week, Fire Headlines host Samantha Didion is joined by Chief Jeff Buchanan and former FirstNet Vice Chairman, Chief Jeff Johnson.

Chief Johnson, who retired as Fire Chief from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue in Oregon, also served as a Past President of the IAFC and currently holds the role of Executive Director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association. With a broad range of experience in public safety at the local, national, and international levels, Chief Johnson brings valuable insight to this discussion.  

The Four Horsemen and FirstNet’s Development

In this episode of Fire Headlines, Chief Johnson shares a detailed account of his pivotal role in the creation and advancement of FirstNet, the dedicated public safety network. He provides a candid look at the challenges faced, including navigating political dynamics and overcoming resistance from established wireless carriers. Chief Johnson explains how the genesis of FirstNet can be traced back to a crucial recommendation outlined in the 9/11 Commission Report. This recommendation called for the establishment of a dedicated public safety network, emphasizing the urgency to address interoperability issues in emergency response. Throughout the discussion, he offers insights into the collaborative efforts of his team, the “Four Horsemen,” highlighting the challenges and trials they encountered on the journey from conception to implementation.

State Opt-In and Future Technology

Chief Johnson offers a detailed account of the strategic efforts undertaken to secure buy-in from all 50 states and territories for the FirstNet initiative. He highlights the critical importance of community engagement and transparent communication in gaining support and fostering collaboration to develop and enhance the network. The discussion delves into addressing bandwidth challenges and adapting to future technological advancements. Chief Johnson sheds light on the escalating demand for data and the need for continuous network enhancement, particularly in transitioning to 5G technology.

Additionally, he explains the significance of spectrum allocation, notably the critical role of the 4.9 spectrum in facilitating public safety operations. He highlights AT&T’s substantial 10-year investment commitment to the development and expansion of FirstNet. Chief Johnson emphasizes AT&T’s dedication to integrating 5G capabilities and extending coverage, underscoring the importance of reinvestment in modernizing the network for sustained effectiveness and long-term viability.

You can learn more about FirstNet at https://www.firstnet.com.

You can email Fire Headlines at [email protected].

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