New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez today announced that she has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T, making New Mexico the eighth state to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“We have to keep doing more to keep our communities safe,” Gov. Martinez said in a prepared statement. “I worked closely with law enforcement as a prosecutor for 25 years. I’ve seen firsthand the need for a streamlined and modernized communication network for our men and women in uniform. This system will help them save more lives.”

Scott Weaver, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico department of public safety, echoed this sentiment.

“This is a great step in making our communities safer,” Weaver said in a prepared statement. “I spent years as a State Police officer driving around New Mexico in a squad car—in and out of every community in the state. I know firsthand just how exciting this improvement is for our men and women who put on the uniform.”

Darryl Ackley, cabinet secretary for the New Mexico department of information technology (DOIT), said that his department will work to ensure that its partnership with the law-enforcement community is an effective one.

“The department will do everything we can to work with our technology partners at FirstNet and AT&T to deploy this system and help them make sure it is completely reliable for our men and women who put their lives on the line for us every single day,” Ackley said in a prepared statement.

New Mexico deployed one of six “early-builder” public-safety LTE projects in cooperation with FirstNet. New Mexico is the second state with an early-builder project—New Jersey was the first—that chose the “opt-in” route.

“Governor Martinez’s decisive action to join FirstNet demonstrates New Mexico’s strong commitment to public safety,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “The FirstNet network will connect first responders operating across New Mexico’s diverse landscape, including its rural, mountainous and remote areas, as well as federal and tribal lands.

“FirstNet and AT&T are pleased to have delivered a plan that meets New Mexico’s unique needs, and we look forward to equipping first responders with the communications tools they need every day and in every emergency.”

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. Gov. Justice’s decision today means West Virginia is the seventh state to accept the FirstNet state plan. Previously, governors in seven other states—Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa, New Jersey and West Virginia—announced their “opt-in” decision, 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.

“AT&T is honored to work with the state to provide a communications network that will allow New Mexico’s first responders to operate faster, safer and more effectively,” AT&T New Mexico President Jerry Fuentes said in a prepared statement. “This first-of-its kind network will transform the way our public safety community communicates, in both our urban and rural areas, increasing safety for them and the New Mexicans they serve.”