Wyoming today became the second state to announce that it plans to allow AT&T, Inc., the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) network partner, to build a radio access network (RAN) rather than attempting to contract to build one itself. Virginia became the first opt-in state yesterday (TR Daily, July 10), and additional states may make opt-in announcements soon.
“The State of Wyoming has participated in FirstNet consultation and outreach activities throughout the planning of the network and reviewed the details of the FirstNet State Plan,” Gov. Matt Mead (R.) said in a letter to FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth. “I have determined that it is in the best interest of Wyoming to participate in the FirstNet deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.”
A news release issued by the governor’s office said that “FirstNet network satisfies the priorities identified by the Wyoming public safety community, rapidly provides access to public safety features, and delivers extensive population and geographic coverage.”
“Governor Mead’s decision will enhance public safety communications throughout the state,” Mr. Poth said. “The FirstNet network will connect first responders operating across Wyoming’s diverse landscape – including its rural, mountainous and remote areas, as well as federal and tribal lands. FirstNet and AT&T are pleased to have delivered a plan that meets Wyoming’s unique needs, and we look forward to deploying the network across the Equality State.”
“Governor Mead is taking a leading role to make it easier for first responders to communicate across the state and across the country,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president-FirstNet for AT&T. “We rely on first responders to keep us safe every day. So we applaud Governor Mead’s quick decision to give Wyoming’s public safety community access to a first-of-its-kind network and next-generation technologies purpose-built for their needs.”
Also today, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) and numerous state and local public safety and FirstNet officials participated in a ceremonial letter of intent signing at FirstNet’s headquarters in Reston, Va.
Gov. McAuliffe said he was proud to make Virginia the first state to opt in to the network, saying, “Today we made our state a little bit safer, which is important.” Mr. McAuliffe, who is chair of the National Governors Association, said he hopes other governors follow suit. “This has been a lot of work,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. He said that one of the first meetings he took when he started in his job in 2014 dealt with FirstNet. “This day has finally come,” he said. “I mean, this is exciting.”
“This is a monumental day for Virginia and for everyone within the FirstNet network and the family,” Mr. Poth declared. “This is just the beginning of where we need to head.”
He thanked the state for the confidence it placed in FirstNet and AT&T, saying, “We’re not going to let you down.”
Mr. Sambar noted that when it was announced that his company had won the 25-year FirstNet contract, the carrier said it would move quickly to deploy a nationwide network (TR Daily, March 30). “Obviously, Virginia took us seriously when we said quickly,” he said. “We’re ready.” Mr. Sambar added to Virginia officials, “You are the cornerstone of that foundation of a public safety broadband network across America.”
Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers called the FirstNet network “transformational,” adding that it will “save lives and property.”
The International Association of Fire Chiefs issued a news release today applauding Virginia’s decision to opt in to the network. “The IAFC is fully committed to continuing to communicate the importance of FirstNet to the incoming administration, members of Congress and the states,” said John Sinclair, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “We will continue to work to ensure that everyone understands that FirstNet is a high priority of the IAFC and the entire fire and emergency service.”- Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org