$6.5 billion contract awarded in wake of 9/11 communications problems
Sixteen years after communications breakdowns on 9/11 hobbled police and firefighters at Ground Zero, the U.S. government awarded $6.5 billion and valuable airwaves to AT&T Inc. to start building a nationwide broadband network for first responders.
The idea was born out of the 9/11 Commission, and it is the only of the bipartisan report’s recommendations yet to be implemented. Congress set aside federal funds for the project, called FirstNet, but it has been dogged by delays and false starts.
Executives at AT&T T, -0.07% , the nation’s second-largest wireless provider by subscribers, said they would spend about $40 billion over the 25-year contract to build and maintain the network, which AT&T says will create 10,000 jobs.
The decision is a major step forward for FirstNet, though there are still questions about whether it will get built as envisioned. Several states are debating whether to join the federal project or build their own public safety networks.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.