"You can not ask men and women to put on that uniform, to put their lives on the line, and not give them the tools they need to keep themselves safe", said Gov. Terry McAuliffe during a ceremony Tuesday at FirstNet headquarters on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston.
This will make Virginia the first state in the country to "opt-in" to FirstNet and bring advanced technologies that will help first responders save lives and protect communities.
Since 2013, FirstNet met with Virginia and public safety officials more than 90 times to consider and integrate needs ranging from maritime coverage to better communications in rural areas.
As part of its nationwide FirstNet contract, AT&T has agreed that public-safety agencies in an "opt-in" state that subscribe to FirstNet immediately will receive prioritized access across AT&T's commercial network that leverages multiple spectrum bands.
The wireless network is created to integrate with Next Generation 9-1-1 networks and smart city technology.
States can submit alternative plans for deploying emergency communications, but they must be interoperable with the FirstNet national plan.More news: Ariana Grande to become honorary Manchester citizen
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FirstNet will work with the state point of contact during state and local planning consultation to gather requirements from key stakeholders for developing the deployment plan.
According to the Office of the Governor's website: "Public safety subscribers to AT&T will be able to take advantage of priority service on AT&T's existing LTE network nationwide".
FirstNet released its initial state plans on June 19 and made them actionable, so governors would have the opportunity to "opt in" to FirstNet prior to the final state plans.
Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers said in a statement that he was "extremely pleased that Virginia is choosing to opt into the network". "We rely on first responders to keep us safe every day".
Wyoming Governor Matthew Mead's office announced the decision, saying FirstNet "will transform the way Wyoming's fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information". Through this partnership, we will build upon our investments in Wyoming with a dedicated focus on our first responders. T.J. Kennedy, president of FirstNet, said the network's capacity will be built out over the next few months to allow non-AT&T users to join FirstNet as well. "You can not ask men and women to put on that uniform, ask them to put their lives on the line and not give them the tools to keep them safe".