A very important milestone is being passed as the State of Virginia signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) to "Opt-In" to FirstNet. The move comes quickly after the release of State Plans, but it is not surprising. Virginia, after all, is home to FirstNet Headquarters as well as a large number of technology players.
But the fast pace should translate to rapid benefits for Virginia jurisdictions. One of the largest (and also home to FirstNet HQ) is Fairfax Fire. Fairfax is an AT&T customer and stands to benefit from a lower mobile broadband tariff. Beyond the rapid economic benefit of gaining a network tariff based on national economy of scale, Fairfax is proud of its technology prowess. Look to Fairfax Fire and Fairfax Police to leverage innovation based on mobile broadband service with high-performance, priority and pre-emption. Unlike many US jurisdictions, Fairfax has both scale and a solid tax base.
Virginia's move is but the first of a wave. The benefits of engaging with AT&T for the FirstNet service are strong. The service provides cost-effective, public safety-grade network functionality even before Band 14 nodes come on-line. Of course, the offer is not perfect. States with large rural areas in lackluster AT&T coverage (and you know who you are) may need to push for expanded coverage or flexibility to in-fill as local authorities deem required. That said, the national network built on a proven AT&T grid is an important start to the next generation of public safety networking in the US.