First-of-its-Kind Solution Will Create Jobs, Spur Investment and Modernize Public Safety Communications across the Commonwealth
On July 11, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a letter accepting the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the Commonwealth’s public safety community. 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.
“I am proud that Virginia is the first state in the nation to opt in to this program that will help our first responders communicate during times of emergency,” said McAuliffe. “While this is only the beginning of the process, I look forward to the continued coordinated efforts among Virginia, FirstNet, and AT&T to provide public safety officials with innovative new technologies that will help them keep Virginians safe.”
FirstNet and AT&T will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Virginia’s public safety community at no cost to the state for the next 25 years. The FirstNet network will deliver innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders. TMA’s Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) is currently working with its members to identify issues and questions concerning the alarm industry’s participation in the network, in order to make AT&T aware of its position on these matters.
This is one of the most economical and technologically advanced decisions Governor McAuliffe will make for the Commonwealth’s first responders and the residents they serve. The network will transform the way Virginia’s fire, police, EMS, emergency management and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. Specifically, FirstNet and AT&T will:
- Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies like the recent shooting in Alexandria or the 2014 Air National Guard F-15C fighter jet crash in Augusta County, and supporting large events, such as the Richmond Jazz Festival.
- Create an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state during natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew, the Derecho storm of June 2012 or the 2011 earthquake with its epicenter in Louisa County.
- Enhance network coverage in rural areas. This will benefit first responders and residents in areas such as Southwest Virginia, Southside Virginia, the Eastern Shore and more.
- Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.
- Usher in a new wave of innovation that first responders can depend on. This will create an ever-evolving set of life-saving tools for public safety, including public safety apps, specialized devices and Internet of Things technologies. It also carries the potential for future integration with NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities’ infrastructure.
“I am extremely pleased that Virginia is choosing to opt in to the network,” said Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Access to the network will provide us with additional tools to help ensure we can do our job when the time comes.”
The FirstNet solution that will be built in Virginia was designed with direct input from the Commonwealth’s public safety community. Since 2013, FirstNet has met with Virginia officials and public safety personnel more than 90 times to address their unique communication needs. This includes understanding the importance of maritime coverage and increasing coverage in rural areas of the Commonwealth as well as coordination with military and federal government users.
“Public safety has spent years advocating for a nationwide network following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and today, Governor McAuliffe is helping to answer that call by joining the FirstNet network,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet will put modern technologies that citizens use every day – like smartphones and apps – into the hands of Virginia’s first responders, helping them help save lives and protect residents while creating a single, interoperable system across the Commonwealth and across the country.”
The decision enables FirstNet and AT&T to begin creating an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications.
Specifically, Virginia’s first responder subscribers will have immediate access to quality of service and priority to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network. Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365, like their mission.
“Governor McAuliffe is taking the first steps necessary to make public safety’s long-awaited vision a reality. Through his leadership, the Commonwealth of Virginia will serve as an important building block for the nationwide public safety broadband network,” said Chris Sambar, SVP, AT&T – FirstNet. “We take our responsibility to deliver this first-of-its-kind solution seriously. And we’re honored to bring the FirstNet Network to Virginia and connect its public safety community to the life-saving technologies they deserve.”
A video of the ceremonial letter signing is posted on on FirstNet.gov.
For more information on the the value FirstNet will bring to public safety, visit FirstNet.com.
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities.