Ohio officials today announced that the state has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of his state, making Ohio the 33rd state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“This technology will transform public-safety communications by providing a modern, digital and high-performance network capability to first responders across the state and the nation,” Rick Schmal, Ohio program director for the Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS), said in a prepared statement. “Ohio is joining more than 30 other states in the national initiative to deploy a seamless, interoperable network to put cutting-edge tools in the hands of those charge with securing and protecting our citizens and businesses.”

Under the law that established FirstNet, governors in all 56 states and territories have the choice of making an “opt-in” decision—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan and allowing AT&T to build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state’s borders at no cost to the state—or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which would require the state to be responsible for building and maintaining the RAN for the next 25 years.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was not quoted in the press releases distributed on Thursday, but a state official confirmed to IWCE’s Urgent Communications via e-mail on Friday that “the Kasich Administration endorsed and supported Ohio’s opt-in to FirstNet.”

With the Ohio announcement, only the following six states have not announced an “opt-in” decision or had state officials issue an RFP seeking a potential alternative RAN vendor: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Dakota and South Dakota.

“The decision to bring FirstNet to Ohio’s public-safety community will revolutionize emergency services across the Buckeye State,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “The network will provide first responders with the speed, reliability and bandwidth they need to take full advantage of new technologies and innovation. FirstNet looks forward to continuing to work with the state to ensure the network meets public safety’s needs, enabling them to collaborate and communicate seamlessly, every day and in every emergency.”

FirstNet released its initial state plans on June 19 and made them actionable, so governors would have the opportunity to “opt-in” to FirstNet prior to the final state plans being released on Sept. 29. Governors in 53 states and territories that received initial state plans on June 19—the exceptions being the Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Island, which will have a separate timetable—are required to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions by Dec. 28.

Prior to the Ohio decision, 32 other states—Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia, New Mexico, Michigan, Maine, Montana, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Tennessee, Nebraska, Maryland, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, North Carolina, Georgia and Vermont—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.

Yesterday, Vermont became the eighth state to announce an “opt-in” decision after issuing a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from vendors willing to deploy and maintain an alternative RAN. Previously, the states of Michigan, Arizona, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Georgia issued RFPs but later saw their governors announce “opt-in” decisions.