First responders are getting their radio network — from AT&T

Police an firefighters at a scene
Photo: Mohammed Elshamy / Getty Images

Police and firefighters are finally getting the priority communications network they were promised in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In exchange for building it, AT&T gets $6.5 billion in government funds over the next five years and access to a large chunk of valuable airwaves for 25 years.

Why it matters: Technical failures and incompatible radios have been a chronic problem for first responders — especially on 9/11, when firefighters rushing to the scene from different jurisdictions couldn't talk to each other. AT&T won the contract to build a national mobile broadband network — FirstNet —specifically dedicated to first responders, which is the final recommendation by the 9/11 Commission.