Kim Reynolds is the fifth governor in the country to “opt in” so Iowa agencies may buy A-T-and-T contracts for high-speed cellular service that provides “first responders” with priority access during times of crisis. Reynolds says A-T-and-T’s “FirstNet” service also will help agencies communicate across state lines.
About five years ago, federal officials awarded A-T-and-T nine BILLION dollars to start creating a NATIONAL network that would divert private traffic from mobile networks and give public safety agencies like police and fire departments nearly all the bandwidth in a critical emergency. Governors have until the end of the year to start creating that kind of emergency network on their own — or do as Reynolds has and opt for the one A-T-and-T is developing.
David Ness, a captain in the Des Moines Police Department, says the 9-11 Commission called for first responders to get “first access” to cellular towers and data networks in times of crisis.
The governor’s “opt in” agreement, however, does NOT require ANY Iowa agency to break current contracts and sign up for A-T-and-T cellular and data service. Signing up for A-T-and-T’s “FirstNet” service is voluntary. A-T-and-T officials say their company has spent nearly 150-million dollars over the past three years to increase the speed of its network in Iowa and more money will be invested here in the future. According to the state government’s “Connect Iowa” program, only a third of the territory in Iowa has access to advanced, high-speed broadband.