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A police officer speaks into his radio in Times Square. Photo: Andrew Burton / Getty Images

All 50 states — and Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — have opted to join the first nationwide mobile broadband network specifically dedicated to first-responders, known as FirstNet. It will be built out next year.

Why it matters: Firefighters, paramedics, police officers and other first responders have historically been at a disadvantage when it comes to mobile communications. Local jurisdictions use different communication technologies that are not interoperable, so first responders from different cities or states have not been able to communicate effectively during emergencies, when commercial networks tend to be more congested. Public safety officials have been pushing for a nationwide network for first-responders' use since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

How it happened: Congress passed legislation in 2012 to establish the first responder network to be built with $7 billion in proceeds from a government airwave auction. (This was funded by a 2015 FCC auction.) AT&T won the contract to build the network in a public-private partnership. Every state governor had the option to be covered by the broadband network or build their own infrastructure to meet the first responders' needs. All states agreed to join by yesterday's opt-in deadline.

How it will work: With the help of the $7 billion auction proceeds, AT&T will build the nationwide network using the set-aside radio-frequencies.

  • "Fast lane": First responders get their own "fast lane" on the network to communicate during emergencies or large events.The core network will be built by Spring 2018, with the full network being complete over 3 to 5 years.
  • Boon for AT&T: The company gets access to a sizable swatch of airwaves, which are extremely valuable because they can travel decent distances and through obstructions like trees and buildings.
  • Sharing bandwidth: When the airwaves are not in use by public safety agencies, AT&T can use these airwaves to supplement their own commercial wireless coverage — a significant incentive to agree to the government requirements for building the network.
  • The catch: If first responders need to use the network, commercial applications will be slowed down or bumped off to give first responders priority access. This will also be a boon for cell-site tower companies that will be needed to build the nationwide network in both cities and rural areas.
  • App Store: FirstNet will have an app store with approved mobile apps that are optimized for public safety use.
  • Security: The network will provide full encryption of public safety data, and states will have access to a dedicated Security Operations Center.

One quick thing: Although it took years for the government to design and allocate resources to this network, it's been one of the few bi-partisan telecom-related issues of the past decade. It's also the biggest test yet of a public-private partnership model that allows government and industry share valuable resource that's in high demand.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”

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