OK First Responders Take 'Wait and See' Approach to FirstNet Opt-In

Oklahoma may have signed onto the national first responder communications network, FirstNet, but they aren’t getting their hopes up about what it will mean for local departments.

by Tim Hudson, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise / November 3, 2017

(TNS) -- Local first responders are responding to the announcement of the establishment of a state Broadband Network.

According to a press release issued Wednesday by the governor's office, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed an opt-in letter with FirstNet (First Responder Network Authority) and AT&T that was intended to "strengthen public safety and increase emergency preparedness by officially making Oklahoma a part of the National Broadband Network."

"Today is a good day for Oklahoma as we opt in to FirstNet and give our first responders the broadband network they need to excel at their jobs," said Fallin.

"It's a nationwide thing, and we are going to see how it turns out, it is dedicated wi-fi and mobile wi-fi," Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox said of the plan.

"It's supposed to be a hard network and is intended to stay up during disasters."

County Undersheriff Steve Johnson said the Sheriff's Office is taking a "wait and see" response.

"We will see what effect it will have on us," he said. "And that is on all first responders, sheriff's offices, police departments, ambulance services, and fire departments."

According to the release, "the FirstNet network will transform the way Oklahoma's first responders communicate and share information by providing them with access to the modernized devices, apps, tools and other resources they need to operate faster, safer and more effectively."

"Established in 2012 by Congress, FirstNet was conceived to create and deploy the first-ever broadband network for use by public safety agencies nationwide. AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Oklahoma's public safety agencies at no additional cost to the state" the release read.

"Over 200 emergency management, medical, law enforcement, and fire official representatives attended the Oklahoma Public Safety Broadband Network's (OKPSBN) initial consultation with FirstNet. Feedback from public safety representatives helped determine the state's network requirements. FirstNet and AT&T designed Oklahoma's network solution around their input as well as the conditions set by OKPSBN."

©2017 the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise (Bartlesville, Okla.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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