By: John Emra, president, AT&T Connecticut

FirstNet’s momentum continues to grow. To date, 36 states and territories have opted in to the FirstNet network. And I’m proud to share the Connecticut Public Safety State Interoperable Executive Committee has recommended to Gov. Dan Malloy that the state of Connecticut also opt in to the FirstNet network.

This is good news for our state and our public safety community. It moves Connecticut’s first responders one step closer to accessing the life-saving tools they need to improve the work they do.

Connecticut has seen more than its fair share of disasters. And our first responders quickly spring into action to coordinate a response. From Hurricane Irene to Superstorm Sandy to the freak snowstorm in October, we ask a lot of our first responders. So, it’s time we get them the communications tools they’ve been asking for and deserve.

As we all know, disasters can have far-reaching impacts. And while our first responders are often the first to the scene, they aren’t always the first to get the network connection or information they need.

FirstNet will change this.

It’s the country’s only communications platform purpose-built with public safety, for public safety. With it, first responder subscribers will have access to a nationwide, interoperable high-speed public safety broadband network dedicated to their needs.

For the first time, FirstNet will also give first responders priority and preemption to voice and data services on the network.

These 2 features will change the game for first responders. When the network is congested, FirstNet priority service will prioritize first responder communications. And for primary users like fire, police and EMS personnel, preemption service will boost priority services already available on FirstNet. With preemption, FirstNet subscribers can access the network when they need to, 24/7/365.

So, whether providing security for an event at the XL Center or responding to a fire or a car wreck, first responders won’t compete with civilians for the connectivity they need. And they’ll always have access to the communications tools that can help them do their jobs.

FirstNet will also drive public safety-focused innovation. It will help make communications tools – like smartphones, apps and connected devices – more useful, valuable and available to first responders.

The Connecticut Public Safety State Interoperable Executive Committee includes leaders from Connecticut’s first responder community. These are figures like municipal and state police, firefighters, and representatives from our state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The Committee is also made up of leaders from across state government.  We appreciate all the work that the Committee and its representatives put into their review.

Having the support of firefighters, police, and emergency management personnel is key because they directly represent FirstNet users.

We look forward to working with state leaders and first responders to help ensure the network that’s built in Connecticut meets public safety’s needs. And we’ll continue to provide decision-makers in Connecticut all the information they need as they choose by the end of the month whether to opt in to FirstNet.