Maine Gov. Paul LePage today announced his decision to accept the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of his state, making Maine the 10th state to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“Maine is proud to take this important step for first responders in our state,” Gov. LePage said in a prepared statement. “The decision to join this network means that FirstNet and its partner, AT&T, will deliver a highly secure, federally funded, next-generation solution for our public-safety community.”

LePage’s decision to make Maine the first New England state to “opt-in” to FirstNet was applauded by FirstNet board member Kevin McGinnis, who is the former EMS Director of Maine and has been a paramedic or paramedic chief in the state for more than 30 years.

“Gov. LePage’s decision will enable a broadband network that will forever change how EMS is provided for patients statewide,” McGinnis said in a prepared statement. “Police and fire services will also enjoy speed, bandwidth, applications, and rural and in-building access like they've never seen before with this network to help protect property and save lives.”

With Maine’s action, 20% of all states have chosen to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“Gov. LePage’s decision to join FirstNet will enhance public safety communications throughout the state,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “This network will connect first responders operating across Maine, from the population centers of Portland and Bangor to the state’s popular vacation destinations, and up to the remote areas near the border with Canada. FirstNet and AT&T are pleased to have delivered a plan that meets Maine’s unique needs, and we look forward to bringing the network to public safety across the Pine Tree 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. Previously, nine other states—Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia, New Mexico and Michigan—have announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands territory.

AT&T officials have stated that deployment of LTE on FirstNet’s 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum could begin as early as this year in certain parts of the country. Public-safety agencies in “opt-in” states are eligible to sign FirstNet contracts that give first responders priority access across AT&T’s commercial networks immediately and preemptive access by the end of the year.

“Governor LePage is putting public safety first. His decision to opt-in to FirstNet will bring Maine's first responders access to the innovative tools and technologies they need to operate faster, safer and more effectively when lives are on the line,” Patricia Jacobs, president of AT&T New England, said in a prepared statement. “FirstNet will benefit the well-being of Maine's first responders, residents and visitors alike—all without costing the state anything to build, operate or maintain.”

Maine’s announcement today comes on the same day as the deadline for states and territories to submit comments to FirstNet about the initial state plans. FirstNet officials have stated that they plan to respond to the comments by mid-September, when the final state plans will be released. After the final state plans are released, governors will have 90 days to “opt-in” to FirstNet or pursue the “opt-out” alternative, which requires the state to build and maintain the public-safety LTE network within its borders for the next 25 years.