Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today announced that she has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of her state, making Oklahoma the 26th state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

"Today, Oklahoma will take the necessary steps forward to provide a wireless broadband network to our dedicated first responders,” Fallin said in a prepared statement. “I am pleased to be able to opt in and provide a more effective and efficient network to those people who support our citizens in times of need.” 

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.

“Gov. Fallin’s decision to join FirstNet comes at the recommendation of the Oklahoma Public Safety Broadband Network Governing Board,” FirstNet Board Vice Chairman Jeff Johnson said in a prepared statement. “They worked through a very detailed decision-making framework that weighed all options to assure public-safety needs were kept front and center.

“FirstNet is pleased to have delivered a network solution that best meets Oklahoma’s needs. We look forwarding to connecting first responders across Oklahoma’s diverse landscape, providing them access to the only network purpose-built for public safety.”

With Fallin’s announcement, Oklahoma becomes the fourth 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 and Alabama issued RFPs but later saw their governors announce “opt-in” decisions.

Many industry observers identified Oklahoma as an RFP state with one of the most difficult paths to pursue, if it wanted to pursue the “opt-out” alternative. Oklahoma state law prohibits the state from signing a contract with a term of more than a year, which could create a host of logistical and operational challenges for the state to mirror the 25-year commitment associated with FirstNet’s nationwide contract with AT&T.

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.