Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced that Arkansas has joined a national emergency communications system.
Arkansas is one of the first states to joining the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet
) and AT&T plan to provide a wireless broadband network for public safety agencies nationwide. It was preceded by Wyoming and Virginia.
The governor said the system will enable quick response to crises. FirstNet is a division of the federal Commerce Department.
There will be no cost to the state to participate in the network for 25 years. A Hutchinson news release said the system will transform the way police, fire, emergency medical and other agencies communicate. Arkansas has been studying joining the system since 2013.
FirstNet is s a byproduct of stimulus spending of the Obama administration. Some $7 billion to build the network was included in a 2012 tax cut bill. AT&T won a federal contract t
o build the system in March. A news report at the time said AT&T, the country's No. 2 U.S. wireless provider, will receive telecom spectrum and $6.5 billion in "success-based" payments for five years.