Advertisement

AT&T announced Thursday that Ohio became the 33rd state to opt into its FirstNet first responder communications network.

The telecom giant — the federal contractor for FirstNet — said the decision will facilitate construction of a new wireless ecosystem for public safety that will also bolster broader economic growth.

"The network will provide first responders with the speed, reliability and bandwidth they need to take full advantage of new technologies and innovation," FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a statement. "FirstNet looks forward to continuing to work with the state to ensure the network meets public safety's needs, enabling them to collaborate and communicate seamlessly, every day and in every emergency."

AT&T and FirstNet added that the agreement was reached after years of talks with Ohio officials and would address expanding rural broadband coverage as well as offer specialized services and devices.

Ohio emergency personnel will also receive immediate access to AT&T's existing network, while priority access to voice and data over LTE is expected to be in place by the end of the year.

States face a Dec. 28 deadline to either opt into FirstNet or consider alternative proposals from additional companies. Rival wireless carriers have criticized FirstNet's lack of transparency and flexibility as states prepare to enter into 25-year emergency communications contracts.

Advertisement
Advertisement