Texas, Idaho Opt in to FirstNet
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 | Comments

Texas — one of the largest states in the country and home to an early builder network — and Idaho opted in to the respective plans from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T to deliver a wireless broadband networks to their state's public-safety communities.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the FirstNet network will provide Texas with modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders to boost their communication abilities.

"The safety and security of Texas communities is my No. 1 priority, and I want to provide our first responders with the best technology possible," said Abbott. "As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, our first responders are often the last and only hope for safety in rapidly changing and life-threatening situations, but this partnership with FirstNet and AT&T allows Texas’s fire, police, EMS and other public-safety personnel to be better equipped when responding in these emergencies."

The new wireless broadband network will improve communications and information sharing in response to natural disasters and to support large events, such as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, which hosts more than 2 million visitors each year.

FirstNet will address Texas’ needs with expanded coverage and coordination with deployable solutions and additional investments beyond what is available from commercial carriers with a focus on underserved public schools, hospitals, public-safety answering points (PSAPs), the Texas-Mexico border, tribal areas and hurricane evacuation routes.

A statement said FirstNet has leveraged the investment and innovation of the Texas early builder program in Harris County to solidify its participation as a thought leader in the development of technology and service solutions that are intuitive and meet the expectations of the public-safety community. FirstNet will incorporate lessons learned from events such as the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and Super Bowl LI to inform how the network can support response and recovery activities and use best practices related to response to disasters.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter also announced that the state will accept the public-safety broadband plan from FirstNet and AT&T.

“Idaho is pleased to be joining with other states in participating in FirstNet's deployment of the nationwide public-safety broadband network," Otter said. “Timely, reliable and accurate information is critically important to ensuring that our first responders can most effectively protect our citizens. This plan provides us with the opportunity to utilize the best technology available to help maximize public safety in Idaho and across the nation."

FirstNet and AT&T will help address the state's unique communications needs, including expanding rural coverage, particularly outside of the Boise area. AT&T will also provide Idaho's public-safety volunteers with bring your own device (BYOD) solutions and expedite deployment to improve the availability of Long Term Evolution (LTE) services throughout the state, a statement said.

"Advanced communications are critical to first responder safety and help make us more efficient and effective when we respond to calls for assistance from our communities in their times of need," said Pocatello (Idaho) Fire Chief David Gates. "FirstNet will deliver that advanced communications capability every day. Natural disasters — like the fires we're fighting right now — know no boundaries. With FirstNet, we can be nimble and adaptable thanks to interoperable communications tools that will give us improved information, coordination and collaboration in emergencies."

For a full list of states that have opted in to FirstNet and other information, visit this page.

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