During my time as county coroner and in municipal government, I have witnessed many times how first responders put their lives on the line everyday in protecting neighborhoods and families. It is essential that they can fulfill their mission of saving lives. An emergency can happen anywhere and at any time, ranging from a far away gravel road, where communication is difficult, to an inner city area. Time and safety make a difference.
Emergencies don’t happen only in highly populated areas, which is why reaching rural America is one of FirstNet’s top priorities.
Gov. Phil Bryant announced that he has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of the state, making Mississippi the 46th state—not including three territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system by last week’s deadline.
FirstNet is addressing rural coverage needs in multiple ways to deploy the network in places where coverage may be difficult. High power towers can cover more rural space with less total infrastructure, as can deployable and satellite solutions. FirstNet is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Authorized by Congress in 2012, its mission is to develop, build, and operate the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect communities.
During emergencies, public safety needs to be able to communicate without interruption-lives depend on it. It is vital that our law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other responders have true priority for their daily and emergency communication needs.This will provide our first responders with the tools they need to keep the people of this state safe.
AT&T will build the FirstNet RAN in “opt-in” states or territories at no cost to each jurisdiction, although local public-safety entities will be responsible for paying subscription costs and end-user device expenses. However, the law that established FirstNet stipulates that individual public-safety agencies and potential first-responder users are not required to subscribe to the FirstNet service.
With this opt-in decision, first responders in Mississippi will now have access to the pioneering communications tools made possible with FirstNet.
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet said, “Congress has an important oversight role as this nationwide network is being deployed. I am committed to ensuring that FirstNet meets its obligations to Mississippi and our emergency responders.”
We are in an age of where technology is important to our daily lives. The state making this decision to accept the public broadband network can be a life saver. This is not only to the person needing the assistance but the responders. That alone makes this a commendable endeavor of our federal and state government working together. It will be an asset to everyone involved in helping those in times of need.
Ken Strachan is a North Carrollton columnist and serves as a North Carrollton Alderman.