About FirstNet

Following the tragic events on September 11, 2001, the 9/11 Commission recommended the establishment of a nationwide, interoperable public safety communications network to resolve communications challenges faced by emergency responders. They found that during emergencies, public safety personnel need access to a robust network able to freely share information between different groups of safety personnel and priority over civilian users of that network.

The NPSBN will be the first nationwide, high-speed broadband network dedicated to public safety.

FirstNet is responsible for the development, deployment and maintenance of the NPSBN. Using nationwide 700 MHz spectrum, FirstNet will put an end to decades-long operability and communications challenges, helping to keep our communities and emergency responders safer and better informed.


FirstNet is an independent entity within the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), organized under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Never before has Congress established an independent governmental authority with a mandate to provide specialized communications services for public safety.

FirstNet is governed by a 15-member Board. The Board is composed of representatives from public safety; local, State and Federal government; and the wireless industry. Members bring their expertise, experience and commitment to serving public safety and meeting the FirstNet mission.

    The Board includes:
  • Attorney General of the United States
  • Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
  • 12 members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce


Success of the network build out depends on users and other stakeholders. For example, all 56 U.S. States and Territories must have a radio access network (RAN) that connects to the FirstNet core network. To contain costs, FirstNet is tasked with leveraging existing telecommunications infrastructure and assets. This includes exploring public/private partnerships that can help support and accelerate network creation.


FirstNet is tasked with cost-effectively creating a nationwide network and providing wireless services to public safety agencies across the country. Congress made history by allocating valuable spectrum and up-to $7 BILLION in funding for the construction of the FirstNet network.

FirstNet is committed to offering its services to public safety at a compelling cost and will make every effort to keep user costs down. Through the assessment of fees, FirstNet must generate sufficient funds to enable the organization to operate, maintain and improve the network each year. However, by law, FirstNet cannot collect fees that exceed the amount necessary to recover expenses. To help ensure cost containment, FirstNet will also leverage its buying power as a nationwide network, serving millions of public-safety users.

FirstNet is working to establish a pricing model that will attract users and ensure the network is self-sustaining.

NPSBN + FirstNet

Together, the NPSBN, FirstNet, stakeholders and partners will provide a secure, reliable and dedicated interoperable network for both voice and data to public safety personnel, bringing 21st century tools to millions of organizations and individuals that respond to emergencies at the local, Tribal, State and Federal levels.


FirstNet is guided by ten (10) important principles:

  1. FirstNet will be a public safety-grade network built to meet the needs of our Nation’s first responders.
  2. FirstNet will provide public safety users with priority access to the network.
  3. FirstNet will harden the network to assist with resiliency during natural disasters, incidents and man-made threats.
  4. FirstNet will enhance public safety communications by delivering mission-critical data and applications that augment the voice capabilities of today’s land mobile radio (LMR) networks.
  5. FirstNet will enable local communications management and keep incident commanders (ICs) in control.
  6. FirstNet will be judicious with taxpayer dollars while remaining focused on offering its services to public safety at a compelling cost.
  7. FirstNet will have effective security controls that protect data and defend against cyber threats.
  8. FirstNet will design a backhaul approach – providing connections between cell sites and the core wireless broadband network – that keeps the network up and running.
  9. FirstNet will leverage existing infrastructure where it makes economic and engineering sense.
  10. FirstNet will support and learn from its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) project partners.

To learn more visit FirstNet Principles.

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