New Jersey Joins FirstNet

Garden State becomes sixth to partner on AT&T-managed emergency communications network

New Jersey is the latest state -- No. 6 in the queue -- to agree to the AT&T/FirstNet plan for rolling out the first-responder interoperable communications network funded with FCC spectrum auction proceeds.

“New Jersey is proud to take this important step for first responders in our state," said Governor Chris Christie. "The decision to join this network means FirstNet and AT&T will deliver a highly secure, next-generation solution for our public safety community, building, maintaining and operating it at no cost and no risk to our state."

Related: AT&T Wins FirstNet Contract

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone, ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, recalled communications issues reported during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

“I remember hearing from public safety officials during Superstorm Sandy how dangerous it could be when their radios were not interoperable," Pallone said. "That's why I want to congratulate everyone in the private and public sectors who came together to support our first responders. But we will all be better off when FirstNet is truly nationwide, so I encourage other states to follow New Jersey's lead and quickly opt in to the network.”

FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said of the new state partner, “New Jersey has been at the forefront of public safety broadband, and with Gov. Christie’s decision to join FirstNet, the state is once again leading the nation.”

New Jersey follows (in order) Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky and Iowa in joining FirstNet.

States can come up with their own networks and plans, as long as they are interoperable with the AT&T/FirstNet network. In fact, Verizon was calling on the FCC this week to ensure that interoperability "can be achieved through alternative network configurations" if other network providers -- like, say, Verizon -- teamed up with states on their own networks.

"States should have the same flexibility as FirstNet to select partners for deploying and operating such a network," Verizon said.