All States Join FirstNet at Deadline


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UPDATE All 50 states chose to join the FirstNet mobile broadband communications network for first responders by the deadline day, December 28. California, Florida, New York and Mississippi announced their decision on that day. New Hampshire reversed course and said it would sign-up as well. Under the FirstNet system, if a governor did not make a decision by the deadline, the state would be treated the same as an “opt-in” state, with AT&T deploying and maintaining the Radio Access Network for the state.

Previously, New Hampshire was the only state to seek an alternative RAN with Rivada and say it intended to opt-out of FirstNet. But at deadline, Governor Chris Sununu decided it was too risky to go it alone. The Union Leader reported that by making the decision on the 28th, New Hampshire retains AT&T’s pledge to build 48 new tower sites.  

“With every state saying ‘yes’ to the FirstNet plan, America’s first responders now have a nationwide interoperable network they can rely on 24/7/365 – like their mission,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. He said the number of states and territories taking part means “public safety is assured of an enduring, self-sufficient network to serve them for years to come.”

AT&T FirstNet SVP Chris Sambar called securing 53 opt-ins significant. “Our FirstNet offering will forever change the way first responders communicate,” said Sambar.

Washington State, Oregon and the District of Columbia decided to opt-in in the days leading up to the deadline. A total of 50 states, two territories and the District of Columbia joined FirstNet by December 28.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the network would help the entire state, from the Great Lakes to the most remote areas of the Adirondacks to New York City, including helping first responders support large events like the New Year’s Eve celebration, which attracts over 1 million spectators to Times Square. First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth said Cuomo’s decision was especially meaningful because it was a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission that led to FirstNet’s creation.  

In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant said: “I’ve determined this is the best deal with the least amount of risk for taxpayers.”  

AT&T’s promise to provide more towers helped nudge Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown toward the “yes” column. Washington and Oregon will work with AT&T to identify where new towers should be placed and other strategies for enhancing the resilience of cell service infrastructure in both states.

In the nation’s Capital, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an RFP for an alternative plan, but ultimately decided to join FirstNet. She said early this year, public safety communication in the District is expected to receive several significant enhancements through FirstNet’s service solution which includes priority, preemption, and increased data speeds.

Three U.S. territories, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, have until March 18 to notify FirstNet whether they want to opt-in or not.

January 3, 2018     

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