The First Responder Network Authority, or the FirstNet Authority, is an independent agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that oversees FirstNet, the nation’s communications network dedicated to emergency responders and the public safety community.
The FirstNet Authority was established in light of September 11, 2001 to create a single, nationwide broadband network specifically for first responders. The tragedies of September 11 revealed fundamental problems with communication systems used by our nation’s first responders. Radios relied on by police, fire, and paramedics did not easily operate across different agencies. Land and mobile phone lines were overwhelmed by a high volume of calls. First responders struggled to communicate with each other.
In the years after September 11, the public safety community worked diligently to urge Congress to pass legislation establishing a single nationwide network allowing all public safety agencies to communicate. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act was signed into law in February 2012 and allocated $7 billion and 20 megahertz of broadband spectrum to establish a network for first responders and to create the FirstNet Authority.
From our 2012 founding through today, the FirstNet Authority has collaborated with local, state, federal and tribal public safety in every state and U.S. territory to understand and incorporate their unique communication needs into the plans for FirstNet. Learn more about the FirstNet Authority’s history
Our mission, as mandated by Congress, is to oversee the buildout, deployment, and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network called FirstNet.
Public safety’s network
Today, first responders throughout the country use FirstNet to help them save lives and keep communities safe. The network is built for public safety with a dedicated network core that separates public safety traffic from non-public safety traffic. FirstNet provides always-on priority and preemption, giving public safety users’ calls, texts, and data the “lights and sirens” treatment to be first in line on the network. The network continues to evolve with new public safety functions and features. The FirstNet nationwide buildout of Band 14 – FirstNet’s dedicated public safety spectrum – provides additional coverage and capacity where public safety said they need it the most. Learn more about the FirstNet network
Our commitment to public safety
FirstNet is built for public safety by public safety. The legislation creating our agency resulted from public safety’s diligent advocacy for a better communications network. Today we work hand-in-hand with public safety from every discipline in each of the 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia to ensure public safety’s voice is represented in the buildout and evolution of the FirstNet network.
The FirstNet Authority has a group of external advisors, called the Public Safety Advisory Committee, who represent all public safety disciplines and provide expertise and guidance to our work.
Our staff includes a team of public safety advisors whose job is to listen to, educate, inform, and advance the needs of public safety. Members of the public safety community can learn more about how to engage with us by contacting the Public Safety Advisor for their state.
Our innovative public-private partnership
FirstNet is built through a first-of-its-kind private-public partnership with AT&T. The network’s initial five-year buildout was launched in 2018. The FirstNet Authority oversees the buildout, deployment, and operation of FirstNet, making sure it delivers what public safety needs from a network.
The FirstNet Authority Board consists of 15 members with expertise in public safety, technology, finance and public sectors. Many FirstNet Authority staff are either current or former public safety officials. Other members of our staff have technical expertise in broadband and telecom technologies. Collectively, we have deep experience in all public safety disciplines and communication technologies in both the private sector and all levels of government – local, state, federal and tribal. Meet our leadership and the FirstNet Authority Board
The FirstNet Authority advances public safety communications tools and innovations. Through a combination of government, commercial, and public safety partnerships, we work to deliver a public safety broadband network and to support an ecosystem of apps, devices, and capabilities that are innovative, reliable, accessible, and secure.