South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster today announced that he has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of his state, making South Carolina the 28th state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“When an emergency happens, South Carolina’s first responders are there, putting their lives on the line to serve and save others,” McMaster said in a prepared statement. “Our public-safety personnel need and deserve resources that will help keep them safe and allow them to deliver the best possible services for our communities, and that’s why I’m proud to work with FirstNet and AT&T to bring this innovative technology to our state.”

Mark Keel, chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, echoed this sentiment.

“Reliable communication is a critical component in protecting the public,” said Mark Keel, Chief of the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. “We have been working with FirstNet for some time and are pleased this is coming to fruition for the benefit of those we all serve.”

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.

McMaster became South Carolina’s governor in January, after former Gov. Nikki Haley was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster’s “opt-in” announcement was made this morning, just minutes after Pennsylvania released its “opt-in” announcement.

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.

"Governor McMaster's decision demonstrates his strong commitment to public safety," said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "We look forward to delivering a sustainable, cutting-edge network that will connect local, state, tribal and federal first responders across the Palmetto State." 

Prior to South Carolina’s decision, 27 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 and Pennsylvania—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.