Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 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 Wisconsin the 35th state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“Clear and reliable communication is essential for first responders to do their jobs effectively,” Gov. Walker said in a prepared statement. “This new partnership provides crucial, secure, and robust broadband access to our first responders and public-safety personnel to help them save lives when every second counts. I look forward to FirstNet and AT&T implementing their plan and its widespread positive effect in protecting Wisconsin's communities.”

Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski echoed this sentiment.

“This is a great day for first responders across Wisconsin and the residents they serve,” Joski said in a prepared statement. "By joining the FirstNet network, the Governor has opened the door to enhanced technology that will improve emergency services and response times. From Pleasant Prairie to Cassville and Kewaunee to Webster, this service will help public safety better serve our citizens."

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.

With Walker’s decision, Wisconsin became that ninth 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, Georgia, Vermont and Missouri issued RFPs but later had their governors announce “opt-in” decisions.

"By joining the FirstNet network, Gov. Walker has made public safety a priority, choosing the best network communications solution for the state," says FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "FirstNet brings new technologies to emergency first responders in Wisconsin over the most modernized and advanced broadband network available today. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Badger State."

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 are required to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions by Dec. 28. The Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Island must make “opt-in/opt-out” decisions by March 12.

Prior to the Wisconsin decision, 34 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, Vermont, Ohio and Missouri—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.

Last week, New Hampshire became the first state to have its governor announce plans to pursue the “opt-out” alternative.