West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice today announced that his state accepts the FirstNet deployment plan for the state, which is the seventh to “opt-in” to the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

“FirstNet and AT&T are really stepping up to help West Virginia and we are all grateful for their efforts to expand coverage for our first responders and our communities,” Justice said in a prepared statement. “Our people will be safer because of this incredible initiative, and it gives our state a launch pad for new jobs.

“I applaud AT&T for their commitment to a service-area footprint that enhances coverage in West Virginia. Competitive pricing and the opportunities this will bring for future investment are limitless. The FirstNet network is a step toward putting West Virginia's first responders on the leading edge.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) echoed this sentiment.

“Mobile broadband access is a critical, life-saving technology that needs to be in the hands of every first responder in West Virginia and across the country,” Manchin said in a prepared statement. “I commend Gov. Justice's decision to expand mobile broadband coverage for our public-safety community through FirstNet, and I applaud AT&T's efforts to help modernize our public-safety communications infrastructure.

“I look forward to continuing to work with Gov. Justice and AT&T to expand mobile broadband access for both our first responders and all West Virginians."

Manchin is the senior senator from West Virginia—a mantle he assumed in 2015, after the retirement of longtime Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.). Most public-safety officials cite Rockefeller as the driving force on Capitol Hill for the inclusion of public-safety-communications language in the 2012 law that established FirstNet.

Under the law that established FirstNet, the governor of each state and territory has the option of accepting the FirstNet deployment plan built by AT&T or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which makes the state responsible for building and maintaining the LTE radio access network within its borders for the next 25 years.

“Gov. Justice's decision to join FirstNet will enhance public-safety communications throughout the state,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “This network will connect first responders operating across West Virginia's diverse landscape—including its rural, mountainous and remote areas, as well as federal lands.

“FirstNet and AT&T are pleased to have delivered a plan that meets West Virginia's unique needs, and we look forward to bringing the network to public safety across the Mountain State.”