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NYC Subway Explosion

Police officers patrol in the passageway connecting New York City's Port Authority bus terminal and the Times Square subway station Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, near the site of Monday's explosion. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Associated Press

New York will join a nationwide communications network for first responders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.

The state will opt into the First Responder Network Authority program known as FirstNet, a federal government partnership with AT&T that established a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety agencies, include fire and police departments. 

FirstNet is overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce and created with the goal of improving communications between first responders. 

AT&T will build the secure wireless broadband communications network at no cost to the state, according to Cuomo's office. The network will expand coverage in some of the most remote areas of the state, such as the Adirondacks. The network will extend to urban areas and along waterways, including the Great Lakes and the Long Island Sound. 

"During emergencies and disasters, every second counts, and ensuring our first responders have the tools they need during a crisis is vital to the safety and security of all New Yorkers," Cuomo said. 

New York's participation in the network will help state and local agencies. FirstNet will help with the response to natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other emergency situations. It will also aid state and local entities during major events, such as the New York City Marathon and the New York State Fair. 

FirstNet was developed in response to the 9/11 attacks. There were numerous communication issues on Sept. 11, 2001. There was damage to critical communications infrastructure and the network was overloaded. 

The First Responder Network Authority was created in 2012. Most states have opted into the program. The lone holdouts, according to FirstNet's website, are California, Florida and New Hampshire. 

Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said the state's participation in FirstNet will improve communication for state and local public safety agencies. 

"Many of our county 911 dispatchers, law enforcement and police/fire are the first responders who will be working on this network and provide the services needed to secure the safety of those throughout our state," Acquario said. 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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