But in a blog post on Friday, FirstNet defended the terms of the spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA).

“Building, operating, maintaining, and improving the RAN portion of the Nationwide Network is a substantial responsibility – a massive telecommunications infrastructure project that cannot fail our nation’s first responders,” according to the blog. “The SMLA is designed to make sure this critical public-safety mission is achieved and that the network is sustainable for 25 years.

“The SMLA includes comparable terms and requirements to those that FirstNet’s network contractor is contractually bound and accountable for in opt-in states.  In other words, we are asking no more of an opt-out state than what we are requiring of our NPSBN contractor to ensure the sustainability, interoperability, and security of the Network for public safety.”

As for O’Malley’s “thuggery reference, a FirstNet spokesperson provided the following statement:

“It’s unfortunate that some feel the need to resort to name calling instead of having a constructive dialogue around public safety, especially at a time when our first responders are constantly tested, challenged and so vital to the safety of our communities,” according to the statement. “FirstNet, however, is keeping the focus on public safety and will continue to work with the states and territories to roll out their networks—opt in or out.”

But questions about the relationship between an “opt-out” state and FirstNet/AT&T continue to linger. FirstNet recently clarified that “opt-out” states would service public-safety customer within its borders, although some industry observers have noted that use of the FirstNet/AT&T core means that AT&T effectively would provide service.

Other aspects that remain unclear include whether AT&T can offer “FirstNet” service on its non-Band 14 spectrum in an opt-out state. If AT&T does offer “FirstNet” service in an opt-out state, do those subscriptions count toward the opt-out state’s efforts to meet the public-safety-adoption thresholds? In addition, there are questions whether public-safety users in an opt-out state will have access to the FirstNet App Store.