New Hampshire’s governor and executive council yesterday voted unanimously to approve a contract with Rivada Networks to build a public-safety LTE radio-access network (RAN) throughout the state, if New Hampshire decides to opt out of FirstNet—a choice that would not be made until next year, according to a state official.

All states and territories will have a choice whether to accept the FirstNet state plan for its jurisdiction or to “opt out,” which would require the state/territory to build and operate the RAN for FirstNet within its borders. With yesterday’s vote, Rivada Networks would have the exclusive right to build the New Hampshire RAN, if the state chooses to pursue the opt-out alternative.

But the selection of Rivada Networks should not be interpreted as an indication that New Hampshire will opt out of FirstNet, according to John Stevens, the statewide interoperability coordinator who works with the New Hampshire department of safety.

“There is no intention, at this point in time, to make any decision in regard to opt in [to FirstNet] or opt out,” Stevens said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “This is just going to allow us to continue to move forward with alternative for the governor and council to consider once we get to some point in the future.

“There is no obligation at this point in time to do anything other than work with FirstNet, develop the state plan with FirstNet and work with the contractor to see if, in fact, we can build our own RAN. Then, we’ll let the governor and [executive] council to make a decision as to what works best for New Hampshire.”

Rivada Networks understands that the contract approved yesterday does not mean that company necessarily will build a public-safety LTE system for the state, according to company spokesman Brian Carney.

“Basically, the contract says that we’re going to help prepare a state plan for the purposes of comparing that plan to the FirstNet [state plan],” Carney said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “If they subsequently decide to opt out, we have the exclusive right to negotiate an agreement to build out the proposal that we prepare in the meantime.

“It’s a contract to deliver a RAN plan to the state, so they can compare it to the FirstNet [state plan].”

Carney noted that contract approved yesterday by the governor and the executive council is only 20 pages in length—a much smaller document than would be required if building a statewide network and operating it for 25 years was a certainty.

“The idea is that we would prepare a state plan,” he said. “If [New Hampshire officials] like that state plan better than the FirstNet plan, we would then go back to cross all of the t’s and dot all of the i’s to turn what we’re going to prepare now into a full-fledged contract to build out the state.”