The state of Virginia announced today that it plans to allow AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, to build a radio access network (RAN) in the state, becoming the first state to do so. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) signed a letter of intent today. Tomorrow, he plans to attend a ceremonial letter signing at FirstNet’s headquarters in Reston, Va.
“I am proud that Virginia is the first state in the nation to opt in to this program that will help our first responders communicate during times of emergency,” Gov. McAuliffe said in a statement. “While this is only the beginning of the process, I look forward to the continued coordinated efforts among Virginia, FirstNet, and AT&T to provide public safety officials with innovative new technologies that will help them keep Virginians safe.”
“Public safety has spent years advocating for a nationwide network following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and today, Governor McAuliffe is helping to answer that call by joining the FirstNet network,” said FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth. “FirstNet will be able to put the technology citizens use every day — like smartphones and apps — into the hands of Virginia’s first responders, modernizing how they help save lives and protect residents while creating a single, interoperable system across the Commonwealth and across the country.”
AT&T is offering opt-in states immediate priority service on its LTE network nationwide and preemption capability by the end of this year.
“Allowing FirstNet and AT&T to move forward with the deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network in Virginia moves public safety closer to the reliable, mission critical broadband service that is needed for evolving threats,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.
“I am extremely pleased that Virginia is choosing to opt into the network,” said Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Access to the network will provide us with additional tools to help ensure we can do our job when the time comes.”
“Governor McAuliffe is taking the first steps necessary to make public safety’s long-awaited vision a reality. Through his leadership, the Commonwealth of Virginia will serve as an important building block for the nationwide public safety broadband network,” said Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president-FirstNet. “We take our responsibility to deliver this first-of-its-kind solution seriously. And we’re honored to bring the FirstNet Network to Virginia and connect its public safety community to the life-saving technologies they deserve.”
FirstNet delivered state plans on June 19 (TR Daily, June 19). States have until Aug. 4 to review the plans and make any comments. FirstNet will then take approximately 45 days, or until mid-September, to review those comments and respond to them, following which governors would have another 90 days to decide whether to opt in or opt out.
However, if states have no questions about the plans released last month, they can notify FirstNet immediately, starting the 90-day period that governors have to officially review their plans and notify FirstNet if they plan to opt out. States do not have to wait for the end of the 90-day period to notify FirstNet if they want AT&T to build their radio access networks. No changes were made to Virginia’s plan.- Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org