Six more states join FirstNet

New York opts in to first responders network

"This reliable, highly secure, interoperable, and innovative public safety communications platform will bring 21st-century tools to public safety agencies and first responders, allowing them to get more information quickly and helping them to make faster and better decisions".

In a statement on December 28, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu indicated that after his state's decision to opt out, talks with other governors around the country who were themselves interested in pursuing independent networks revealed the deadline was approaching "too quickly for these other states to feel confident in an opt-out decision".

"These new sites will lead to a top quality public safety network for our first responders and enhanced coverage for all of our citizens", said Sununu.

AT&T will spend about $40 billion over a 25 year contract to deliver FirstNet, and states and territories don't have to pay to build, maintain or upgrade the network, the company said. "Because New Hampshire started early and conducted a thorough evaluation of both paths, we were presented with a strong opt-out plan that strengthened the state's negotiating position". The decision was made, the governor said, because of the risk associated with being the only state to opt-out of the network.

Wall Street analysts have said FirstNet is a way for AT&T to add to its portfolio of wireless airwaves, or spectrum, at a time when consumers are using more data on their cell phones.

"Our states' first responders deserve the best resources we can get for them, and by first working to identify our needs and review all of our options during a competitive process, we were able to confidently conclude FirstNet is the best choice for this service", Brown said in the release.

The Dec. 28 deadline reflects the end of a 90-day period during which states were asked to decide whether they would participate or opt out. Decisions from the three Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands are not due until March 12, 2018.

Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced their states will be the next two members of the First Responder Network Authority, known as FirstNet.

"As a result, it now appears likely that no other states will opt out", Sununu said.

AT&T announced today that all 50 states are on board with its plan to build a dedicated broadband network for first responders.

FirstNet aims to improve coordination among first responders during emergencies without having to rely exclusively on commercial networks.

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