Utah Gov. Gary Herbert 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 Utah the 29th state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“Utah is pleased to join other states in working with FirstNet to deploy the nationwide public-safety broadband network,” Gov. Herbert said in a prepared statement. “First responders need to have the most advanced and reliable communication technology, so they can access critical information, respond efficiently, and coordinate efforts. The FirstNet plan and associated technology will give Utah and the nation the necessary tools to maximize public safety.”

Chief Tom Ross, president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, echoed this sentiment.

“Reliable communications are critical to the safety and success of first responders and the public,” Ross said in a prepared statement. “During emergencies, networks get clogged, because people are simultaneously trying to communicate. We are excited that FirstNet will establish a dedicated network that prioritizes first responders’ communications.”

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.

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 the 53 states and territories that received initial state plans on June 19—the exceptions being the Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Island, which will have a separate timetable—are required to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions by Dec. 28.

“Gov. Herbert's decision to make Utah the 31st state or territory to join FirstNet shows his dedication to improving public safety,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “We look forward to delivering the reliable, secure communications Utah’s first responders need over the only wireless network purpose-built for them.”

Prior to Utah’s decision, 28 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 and South Carolina—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.

Meanwhile, the District of Columbia and 13 states have issued a request for proposal (RFP) without having their governors announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision to date: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Of these states, New Hampshire is only state to announce the winner of its procurement—Rivada Networks.