Gov. Jim Justice (D-WV) recently announced that West Virginia will become the seventh 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 West Virginia for the next 25 years.
“FirstNet and AT&T are really stepping up to help West Virginia and we are all grateful for their efforts to expand coverage for our first responders and our communities,” Justice said. “Our people will be safer because of this incredible initiative and it gives our state a launch pad for new jobs.”
Once the network is fully implemented, it will allow for West Virginia-based first responders to obtain immediate access to voice and data across the existing AT&T long-term evolution (LTE) network.
“Competitive pricing and the opportunities this will bring for future investment are limitless. The FirstNet network is a step toward putting West Virginia’s first responders on the leading edge,” Justice said.
The secure channel will allow for subscribers to obtain critical information during natural disaster-type emergencies, like the recent floods in Greenbrier County, and large-scale events, such as West Virginia University football games.
According to FirstNet, preemption for primary users, such as police and EMS, is expected by the end of the year.
“First responders put their lives on the line every day,” Chris Sambar, senior vice president of AT&T — FirstNet, said. “They deserve access to modern communications tools that will help them keep themselves and those they protect safe. And that’s exactly what we’ll deliver with Governor Justice’s decision to opt-in to FirstNet.”