Maryland takes FirstNet opt-ins to 21

Maryland has become the 21st state/territory in the US to opt-in to the FirstNet and AT&T plan for public safety broadband.

Maryland has become the 21st state/territory in the US to opt-in to the FirstNet and AT&T plan for public safety broadband. 

AT&T, in a public-private partnership with FirstNet, will build, operate and maintain a “highly secure” wireless broadband communications network for Maryland’s public safety community at no cost to the state.

“Keeping Marylanders safe is our top priority, and our first responders need to be equipped with every tool possible to protect our citizens,” said Maryland state governor Larry Hogan. “By adopting this plan, our first responders will now have the ability to efficiently and effectively work together not just within the state, but across the region and at the national level.” 

“This innovative initiative will also spur investment into Maryland’s economy, helping to create jobs and enhance mobile broadband coverage in rural parts of the state,” the governor continued.


FirstNet has stated that it transform the way Maryland’s fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel communicate and share information, by: 

  • Connecting first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies and supporting large events like the Preakness. 
  • Creating an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state during natural disasters like 2016’s Winter Storm Jonas that brought record breaking snowfall and blizzard conditions to the state.  
  • Increasing public safety coverage across the state and region and connect public safety subscribers nationally, providing modern communications and data sharing, helping to increase the safety of first responders. 
  • Enhancing and expanding network coverage across Maryland’s diverse landscape, to cover areas that are today underserved, benefitting first responders and residents throughout the state’s rural areas. 
  • Providing first responders with access to dedicated network assets that can be deployed for additional coverage and support when needed. 
  • Driving infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state. 

FirstNet and AT&T designed Maryland’s network solution with direct input from the state’s public safety community. FirstNet has been meeting with Maryland’s officials and public safety personnel for several years to address their unique communication needs. These include:   

  • Expanding coverage across the state, particularly in the western and lower Eastern Shore. 
  • Focusing on the state’s critical infrastructure in preparation for severe weather events.  
  • Making solutions available to support the state’s large base of volunteer emergency responders.  

According to a FirstNet press release, preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected to be delivered by the end of this year and that the governor’s opt-in decision will allow AT&T to buildout FirstNet in Maryland and begin planning and construction ahead of schedule. 

“FirstNet is honored to serve the state of Maryland – where we launched our nationwide consultation program in 2014,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “Governor Hogan's decision will help deliver game-changing technology to first responders throughout Maryland, making communities safer and more secure.  FirstNet will continue our partnership with the state to make sure the network delivers the coverage, services and innovation that public safety expects and needs.” 

[Editor’s note: this story broke after the September/October issue of TETRA Today went to press and therefore Maryland is not present in the list of states (and accompanying figure) that have opted-in, which is shown on page six of the issue]