Texas Gov. Greg Abbott 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 Texas the 21st state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“The safety and security of Texas communities is my number-one priority, and I want to provide our first responders with the best technology possible,” Abbott said in a prepared statement. “As we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, our first responders are often the last and only hope for safety in rapidly-changing and life-threatening situations, but this partnership with FirstNet and AT&T, allows Texas’s fire, police, EMS and other public-safety personnel to be better equipped when responding in these emergencies.”

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar expressed confidence in the FirstNet system, noting AT&T’s performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“Hurricane Harvey is still fresh on our minds as the area continues to recover. The support we received from AT&T and FirstNet during our response was incredible, and with this partnership, it will only get better,” Salazar said in a prepared statement.

“Whether responding to storms like Harvey or wildfires in West Texas, our state’s first responders go above and beyond the call of duty every day to help Texans and save lives. The innovative FirstNet system will provide them a network worthy of their service — that will help protect their safety while giving them the tools and technologies they need to stay connected and to help communities and citizens across Texas.”

Industry observers viewed Texas as one of the most critical states for FirstNet and AT&T, because it is second-largest state in the nation in terms of population and includes lucrative several commercial wireless markets, such as the Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin metropolitan areas. AT&T’s headquarters is located in Dallas.

“With Gov. Abbott’s decision to join FirstNet, Texas continues to lead the way on public safety by taking emergency response and innovation to the next level,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “We are honored to serve the state’s first responders and will continue to collaborate with them to ensure the network delivers what they need, both now and in the future.”

Texas also is home to the 40-site Harris County LTE network, which was the first public-safety LTE network in the U.S. and is the largest of the “early-builder” LTE systems located in an “opt-in” state. It also is the only “early-builder” public-safety LTE network that was expanded with local taxpayer dollars.

A press release from the state of Texas states that FirstNet met with Texas officials “to address specific safety needs across the state.” One item mentions the Harris County LTE system, noting that FirstNet plans include “leveraging the investment and innovation of the Texas Early Builder Program in Harris County to solidify their participation as a thought leader in the development of not only technology, but the service solutions that are intuitive and meet the expectations of the public safety community.”

Multiple attempts by IWCE’s Urgent Communications to determine whether AT&T would assume control of the Harris County LTE network—and, if so, when and under what conditions—did not yield an clear answer, with one source indicating that the matter may not be addressed publicly today.