Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg announced participation in a new nationwide first responder network at their administration’s weekly press conference Tuesday. Iowa is one of the first states in the country to opt-in to the FirstNet cell network. The network gives priority to police, fire and other emergency workers during a crisis.
Until now, first responders have used more than 10,000 different networks to communicate, creating issues during emergencies. First responders have also had to compete with consumers trying to access the same cellular network.
With FirstNet, Iowa’s first responders will have special SIM cards for their smartphones, putting them first on the network to connect and stay connected. The system will also provide interoperability, allowing first responders from different agencies, jurisdictions or even over state lines to talk to one another.
Iowa’s opt-in also brings rural responders accelerated access to broadband services. FirstNet will help bring broadband 4G LTE to both citizens and public safety users in rural areas—some for the first time—helping erase the “digital divide” between the technologies available to urban versus rural areas.
“The FirstNet network will not only strengthen and modernize public safety communications in our state, but also bring much needed investment to our communications infrastructure,” Gov. Reynolds said. “The network builds on AT&T’s existing footprint to expand coverage and capacity. AT&T has invested nearly $150 million in its Iowa network infrastructure over the past three years. By partnering with FirstNet, we will be able to expand coverage for first responders. As a result, this will also help expand coverage for rural Iowans, providing access to a reliable, high speed wireless connection in areas with little or no connectivity today.”
Iowa incurs no risk, responsibility or cost for the FirstNet network and makes no commitment with this opt-in. FirstNet and AT&T will deploy, operate, maintain and improve the FirstNet network in Iowa and assume all responsibility for capital expenditures, operating costs and other costs like staffing, training, integration, environmental compliance and program management.
“Iowa, FirstNet and AT&T have formed an innovative public-private partnership to expand coverage, enhance capacity and launch new devices and applications for first responders,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “This network is designed specifically for Iowa’s public safety professionals, by Iowa’s public safety professionals. We wanted our brave men and women to have the best. This solution will help us continue to build a better Iowa by ushering in a new wave of innovation for Iowa’s first responders.”