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By Oralia Ortega

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The federal government has announced a massive new nationwide network that will revolutionize how police, firefighters and other first responders communicate with each other during emergencies.

The Department of Commerce announced Thursday it’s teaming up with AT&T to build and operate a new national broadband network that will be dedicated exclusively for use by first responders. This essentially creates a “fast lane” of their own.

Police, fire and other first responders will for the first time be able to communicate on the same network with a broadband capacity that will support them.

“It’s building infrastructure and bringing infrastructure to some rural areas that didn’t have it before,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, first responders faced massive communication issues with the networks jammed.

The announcement of the new network comes more than a decade after the 9/11 commission recommended creating a public safety network.

The Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police has reported it’s had radio transmission issues for nearly 10 years, but recently the static has gotten so bad that units could not be heard at all.

The city of Miami Beach blamed the issue on an atmospheric condition that’s interfering with radio waves.

Roger Entner, a wireless industry research analyst, told CBS4 News the new system would do away with this issue.

“The new system will work like a cell phone and we don’t hav these experiences with cell phones where we have weather patterns.  So it’s a by far more reliable system,” said Entner.

Each state will now have an opportunity to opt in or opt out of this network. As soon as they opt in, AT&T says they can begin deploying cell towers to improve coverage.

The goal to see this up and running by the end of the year.


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