Indeed, an NTIA official said during an IWCE session last week that a construction grant from NTIA would cover only a fraction of the expected costs to build the RAN initially within a state. In fact, the formula for determining potential state grants would be based on a total of $5.5 billion for all four phases—construction, operation, maintenance and operation, according to Carolyn Dunn, director of NTIA’s state alternative plan program (SAPP).

This $5.5 billion figure will be divided by the 56 states and territories and only the construction portion would be considered for a grant. In addition, the state would have to fund fully all network upgrades—the timing of which would be dictated by FirstNet, not the state—in the future.

Sambar said he believes the choice for governors is clear.

“They can either pick someone who has an established track record and has been doing this for 140 years, or they can go with somebody else, hope they can build the network, hope they can get it up and running, and hope they can sustain it for 25 years without leaving the state in a lurch for finances,” Sambar said.

“So, there are lots of good reasons to opt in and lots of reasons not to opt out.”

FirstNet President TJ Kennedy said that FirstNet will work to ensure that governors have all of the information necessary to make the best possible choices for their states and territories.

“I would suspect that everyone really has to look at the risk and the reward and the timing of everything that needs to happen,” Kennedy said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “I think the most important thing is that I’m very confident that we’re going to be bringing forward very solid draft state plans and final state plans that are going to bring a differentiated public-safety service that should meet the needs.

“Now that we have an award, we can work very closely with states to get to those plans. I think that, when they look at the public-safety-grade services that will be offered on this network, it will be a differentiated offering that they will want to be on, it will be very cost competitive, and it will be available very, very quickly. I think that’s really key.”

At this point, five states—New Hampshire, Alabama, Arizona, Michigan and Colorado—have issued requests for proposals (RFPs) as part of efforts to provide their governors with an option or comparison point when FirstNet and AT&T deliver the deployment plans for their states in about six months.