Governor Approves State's Participation in Emergency Communication System

Governor Approves State's Participation in Emergency Communication System

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday announced that Arkansas will opt in to the First Responder Network Authority, and AT&T plans to deliver a secure wireless broadband network to the state’s public safety community.

The Governor made the announcement at the National Governors Association’s Summer Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.

Virginia and Wyoming have also declared their intention to participate in the program.

Now that Arkansas has opted in, FirstNet and AT&T will build, operate and maintain the network at no cost to the state for the next 25 years, according to a news release.

The network will also allow the public safety community to innovate and shift to modernized communication devices, apps and tools.

Hutchinson said in the release. “As a former undersecretary of homeland security after 9/11, I understand the necessity of a reliable stand-alone emergency communications system. FirstNet has received wide support among our community of first responders because it will enable us to respond more quickly during crises when seconds can mean the difference between life and death.”

Ed Drilling, president of AT&T Arkansas, said in the release, “It is our honor to provide advanced communications capabilities to ensure Arkansas’ first responder community has a network they can rely upon when needed most.”

He also said, “AT&T has a long history with the public safety community, and together we know we will create a first-of-its-kind network that will help first responders operate faster, safer and more effectively when lives are on the line. We will bring first responders the coverage, value and experience they expect.”

The governor, in 2015, directed state agencies and other stakeholders to review whether Arkansas should opt in. And FirstNet has been meeting with officials since 2013.