And those coverage and capacity benefits associated with deploying the FirstNet system will not be limited serving the first-responder community, Stephens said. AT&T also has a total of 40 MHz of unused spectrum in the AWS-3 and WCS bands that it plans to deploy as it builds out coverage utilizing the Band 14 coverage from FirstNet.

“When we climb the tower to put on the 700 [MHz equipment associated with the FirstNet deployment], we’re going to go ahead and climb the tower and put on the AWS-3 and the WCS,” Stephens said. “So, we’ll have tremendous efficiencies in costs, because we’ll only have to climb the tower once, but we’ll get three bands of spectrum put in place.”

 “That’s a tremendous capacity capability and speed-enhancement opportunity for us. It will benefit the first responders, and we’re thrilled with that. But it will also benefit every one of our customers. In the United States, where we’ve gone to unlimited [data offerings] as a competitive aspect of our business, capacity is going to be critical.”

AT&T also plans to coordinate its FirstNet deployment with its other broadband network initiatives, including widespread fiber deployment for access and backhaul purposes, as well as densification of cell sites to support 5G initiatives that are designed to enable Internet of Things (IoT) and smart-cities services, according to Stephens.

“We’re doing this at the same time that we’re expanding and looking into our 5G evolution, and we’re utilizing our fiber build, both to the prem [premises] and to business-customer locations,” Stephen said. “So, we’ll be able to coordinate this as one build and take advantage of the existing fiber—the deep fiber we already have in our network. But then, as we’re building new fiber, coordinate that with this great [FirstNet] build.

“We sincerely believe that this will not only give us a great opportunity to serve first responders but also give us a great opportunity to continue our lead in connected devices and the Internet of Things in the support of healthcare devices, in the support of logistics and monitoring and a whole host of businesses that we’re already in. It’s very, very significant.”

In recent years, FirstNet officials have cited such synergies as a key component to the successful deployment of the NPSBN, as all industry experts agreed that the $7 billion that Congress allocated to FirstNet would not be enough to build and operate a sustainable nationwide broadband network.