Rivada Networks this week named U.S. Cellular as the carrier partner for its alternative radio-access-network (RAN) plan for the state of New Hampshire, which is on track to make an “opt-in/opt-out” recommendation to its governor within the next several weeks, according to a state official.

FirstNet released its request for proposals (RFP) in January 2016 and included a deployment requirement that effectively required bidders for the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) to have a carrier partner—something that vendors in “opt-out” states also would need. However, because New Hampshire released its RFP before FirstNet, the state procurement did not require vendors to identify a carrier partner, so Rivada did not name its partner until this week, according to Rivada Networks spokesman Brian Carney.

“They [U.S. Cellular] were not part of our original response; they are an addition for New Hampshire,” Carney said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “The RFP was out before the FirstNet RFP, so there was no requirement that we have a carrier partner or meet that IOC-1 milestone.”

Of course, U.S. Cellular and Rivada will need to build out an alternative radio access network (RAN) in New Hampshire on the condition that the state’s governor chooses to pursue the “opt-out” alternative and the state successfully navigates the challenging statutory process.

FirstNet released its initial state plans on June 19 and made them actionable, so governors would have the opportunity to “opt-in” to FirstNet prior to the final state plans being released in this month, likely within the next two weeks. So far, governors18 states and two territories have announced “opt-in” decisions. States cannot make an “opt-out” decision until the final state plans are distributed to the governors.

John Stevens, New Hampshire’s single point of contact (SPOC), said state officials reviewing the issue have not decided what recommendation to make to the governor.

“We’re basically looking for the [final] state plan; we’d like to see that state plan,” Stevens said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “I would hope that we would not act on a draft plan.

“I would like to see what is in that state plan, because we’ve had an awful lot of meetings with AT&T in regards to increasing coverage and so forth in the AT&T/FirstNet state plan, so would certainly like an opportunity to take a look at that to see what was included.

“Because we’ve done our due diligence for as long as we’ve done it, we feel that we’re now in a fairly good place, in regard to taking those two plans, analyzing what each of those two plans mean for New Hampshire, and hopefully providing a recommendation to the governor sometime near or after the first of October.”

New Hampshire was criticized by some for releasing its RFP early and completing its procurement evaluation, which resulted in the selection of Rivada Networks as its vendor. However, Steven said he is glad the state has taken the FirstNet steps that it has, given the logistics involved in the FirstNet process, the need to evaluate bids, and the nuances of New Hampshire’s state government.

“I cannot believe that we would have been able to do anything other than that,” Stevens said. “It has taken us a considerable amount of time to completely have an understanding where we would like to see New Hampshire with the FirstNet process … There’s no conceivable way that we would have been able to do what we have done within the next 90 days [based on the expected mid-December deadline for opt-in/opt-out decisions] that took us the last two years to accomplish.”