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Friday, May 7th, 2021

Iowa set to become fifth state to opt-in to nationwide public safety broadband network

Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) recently announced that the state of Iowa would become the fifth state in the country to opt-in to the nationwide public safety broadband network that is currently being developed by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T.

As part of the agreement, FirstNet and AT&T will build, operate, and provide needed maintenance for a secure wireless broadband network for use by firefighters, police, public safety personnel and associated first responders during emergency situations. The network’s development will be at no cost to the state of Iowa for the next 25 years.

“AT&T has invested nearly $150 million in its Iowa network infrastructure over the past three years,” Reynolds said when announcing her decision to opt-in to the network. “By partnering with FirstNet, we will be able to expand coverage for first responders. As a result, this will also help to expand coverage for rural Iowans, providing access to a reliable, high speed wireless connection in areas with little or no connectivity today.”

Once the network is fully implemented, it will allow for Iowa-based first responders to obtain immediate access to voice and data across the existing AT&T long-term evolution (LTE) network.

The secure channel will allow for subscribers to obtain critical information during natural disaster-type emergencies and large-scale events, such as the annual Iowa-Iowa State football game.

According to FirstNet, preemption for primary users, such as police and EMS, is expected by the end of the year.

“By opting in, Governor Reynolds is prioritizing the safety and security of her first responders and all those they serve,” Cheryl Riley, president of AT&T Northern Plains, said. “FirstNet will drive additional investments in the state that will bring public safety the cutting-edge tools and technologies they need to protect Iowans. And we look forward to continuing our 112-year partnership with Iowa to help its first responders carry out their important mission.”