Border States Michigan, Maine Opt in to FirstNet
Friday, August 04, 2017 | Comments

Two northern border states — Michigan and Maine — opted in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Brian Calley signed a letter for Michigan to opt in to FirstNet. Michigan is the first state that released a request for proposals (RFP) for an alternative statewide public-safety LTE plan that has opted in.

In June, the state of Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget recommended that the state analyze Rivada Michigan’s bid alongside the FirstNet state plan for Michigan “to determine the best value bid.”

The decision to join FirstNet was reached after three years of discussions with public-safety officials throughout Michigan. Input was gathered and compiled to determine the unique needs for a public-safety broadband network in the geographically diverse state, a Michigan statement said.

“Much of the state of Michigan is rural in nature and presents many communication challenges,” said Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue. “Effective and robust communications capabilities are critical to all public-safety officials and the citizens we serve.”

“Michigan reviewed all the options and proposals available before deciding to move forward with the FirstNet system,” the statement said.

Separately, Maine Gov. Paul LePage made Maine the 11th state and territory to opt in to the FirstNet network.

A statement said FirstNet will also help support large events, such as the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland and the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston-Auburn. Both attract more than 100,000 visitors each year.

The FirstNet network will enhance coverage in rural and tribal areas, the statement said. “Maine is one of the most rural states in America with 90 percent of its land mass covered by forests,” AT&T said. “Increased coverage will benefit first responders, residents and visitors in Maine's recreation destinations, such as Acadia National Park, as well as tribal lands and wilderness areas.”

"Gov. LePage's decision will enable a broadband network that will forever change how EMS is provided for patients statewide," said FirstNet Board Member Kevin McGinnis, who is the former EMS director of Maine and has been a paramedic or paramedic chief in the state for more than 30 years. "Police and fire services will also enjoy speed, bandwidth, applications, and rural and in-building access like they've never seen before with this network to help protect property and save lives."

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