States and territories pursuing the “opt-out” alternative would need to complete an FCC review process that the agency hopes to complete in 90 days, following a 60-day period that is designed to give states and territories time to prepare alternative plans, according to the FCC proposal that is scheduled for consideration at the June 22 commission meeting.

“Each opt-out state will have 240 days from the date of its opt-out notification to the Commission to file an alternative state plan in the docketed proceeding established for that state,” according to the FCC’s draft order that was released last week.

Under the law that established FirstNet, governors will be presented with a final state plan outlining the deployment of a public-safety broadband network within the borders of their states and territories, likely in the fall of this year. After receiving the state plan, the governor has 90 days by law to:

(1) Accept the state plan, allowing the AT&T-built FirstNet plan to proceed in the state;

(2) Take no action, which has the same impact as accepting the state plan; or

(3) Choose to pursue the “opt-out” alternative, which requires the state to build an LTE radio access network (RAN) within its borders that interoperates with FirstNet’s nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).

States choosing to pursue the “opt-out” alternative must complete their request-for-proposals (RFP) procurement process for its alternative plan within 180 days after the governor’s opt-out decision is made, according to law. After the RFP is completed, the law stipulates that the FCC must review each alternative plan and determine whether the alternative plan will interoperate with the nationwide FirstNet system.

However, the law does not stipulate a timetable for FCC consideration. In its draft order, the FCC proposes an additional 60 days after a state or territory completes its RFP to prepare its alternative plan that will be submitted for FCC consideration.

“With respect to the timing of submission of state alternative plans, we conclude that states should have some additional time beyond the 180-day RFP completion period to assess RFP bids and finalize their alternative plans for Commission consideration,” the FCC’s draft order states.

“Just as the Act recognizes that FirstNet itself will ‘develop’ an RFP, then complete the RFP ‘process,’ and then deliver to states the ‘proposed plan for buildout of the nationwide, interoperable broadband network in such State’—and just as FirstNet did not deliver the state plans immediately upon completion of the RFP process—we believe it reasonable to afford states that have developed and completed RFPs an additional 60-day period to submit alternative state plans to the Commission.”

One issue not addressed in the FCC draft order is how a legal protest of an RFP award in a state pursuing the “opt-out” alternative would be treated under the proposed timeline, based on sources that IWCE’s Urgent Communications has contacted about the matter.

After the FCC receives an alternative state plan, the agency will try to meet a 90-day “aspirational shot clock” for the commission to decide whether the plan meets the legal criteria for acceptance.