New Mexico, U.S. Virgin Islands Opt in to FirstNet
Tuesday, August 01, 2017 | Comments

The second state with an early builder network and the first U.S. territory accepted the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T public-safety broadband plans for their areas.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced her decision to accept the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public-safety community. 

“We have to keep doing more to keep our communities safe,” said Martinez. “I worked closely with law enforcement as a prosecutor for 25 years. I’ve seen firsthand the need for a streamlined and modernized communications network for our men and women in uniform. This system will help them save more lives.”

A statement said the network will enhance New Mexico's unque needs, including expanding coverage in rural and tribal areas, including New Mexico’s Bootheel; enabling state, local, tribal and federal agencies to effectively communicate and coordinate along the border; and increasing capacity during emergencies and natural disasters through the use of deployables

New Mexico is one of five early builder networks, and the statement did not specifically mention that network and its potential integration into the AT&T network for New Mexico. "We are working closely with New Mexico and its public-safety community to provide the coverage they need," said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T – FirstNet, when asked about the state's early builder network. "This includes building new sites to cover areas that are today unserved or underserved, working with rural providers, integrating state assets — including those from the early builder project as appropriate — providing access to deployables, and more."

In 2015, the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DoIT) completed the first phase of the state’s public-safety Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Santa Fe. Working with General Dynamics Mission Systems, the state connected its LTE network evolved packet core (EPC) with the EPC in Adams County, Colorado, another early builder network. General Dynamics is part of the AT&T team that won the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network contract.

Separately, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp announced his decision to opt in to FirstNet, making the U.S. Virgin Islands the first territory to opt in to the FirstNet network.

“The United States Virgin Islands participated in FirstNet consultation and outreach activities throughout the planning of the network and reviewed the details of the FirstNet state plan,” said Mapp. “I have determined that it is in the best interest of the United States Virgin Islands and the country to participate in the FirstNet deployment of the national public-safety broadband network.”

AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for the Virgin Islands’ public-safety community for the next 25 years.

“This is consistent with the policy of this administration to provide not only the training our first responders require, but the tools each agency needs to more efficiently respond to public-safety issues by coordinating the use of available resources,” said Commissioner of Police Delroy Richards.

FirstNet and AT&T designed the U.S. Virgin Islands’ network solution with direct input from the territory’s public-safety community. FirstNet has been engaging with Virgin Islands’ officials and public safety personnel for years to address their needs. This includes expanding coverage across the territory, enabling state, local and federal agencies to effectively communicate and coordinate over the islands, even in remote areas and coastlines.

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