The second largest wireless carrier in the United States, AT&T has disclosed that all the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have formally joined FirstNet. This is a program worth approximately $6.5 billion that was designed by the U.S. government and operated by AT&T with a view to offering emergency response communications all over the country.
A deadline had been imposed during which states were required to either formally opt out or opt in to the system. Among the states that were late to officially join included New York, Mississippi, Florida and California. The contract to build and operate the FirstNet system was awarded by the U.S. government to AT&T last year in March. This came more than a decade since there was a recommendation by a federal commission that there was need for such a system after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
For the system AT&T will be issued with 20 Mhz of wireless airwaves as well as performance-based payments in the course of the coming half a decade. According to AT&T, building and maintaining the network will cost around $40 billion in the course of the next 25 years.
Per Wall Street analysts, the FirstNet system will allow AT&T to add spectrum or wireless airwaves during a time when there is an increase in the use of data on mobile devices by consumers. This is because when the spectrum it will get from the United States government is not being used by emergency responders, the wireless carrier will offer its wireless customers the idle network capacity.
Call center layoffs
The joining of all 50 states to the AT&T-operated FirstNet system comes at a time when the wireless carrier has announced that 87 of its employees in Kansas City will be laid off as the telecommunication giant restructures its call centers. Affected employees will mostly be from the collections and credit center of AT&T in Kansas City.
“Work volume at the center has been decreasing due in part to improvements in technology and customers’ increasing preference to communicate with us online,” AT&T said in a statement.
Some of the employees will be given the opportunity to move to San Antonio, Texas, where AT&T is relocating call center employees. The restructuring is not restricted to Kansas City as the wireless carrier also recently announced that it would be laying off about 280 employees located in Dallas in 2018’s first quarter.