New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu last week decided the state should pursue the “opt-out” alternative to FirstNet, but the New Hampshire Executive Council must approve a contract with Rivada Networks to build and operate an alternative radio access network (RAN) for the state to continue pursuit of “opt-opt” status.

New Hampshire’s Executive Council is a unique entity within U.S. state governments—an elected, five-member body that shares executive-branch powers with the governor. While other states have similar bodies, they have only an advisory role to the governor; in New Hampshire, the Executive Council effectively has the power to veto governor actions.

There is no indication that the New Hampshire Executive Council has any intention of challenging Sununu’s “opt-out” decision, which federal law states is a choice that belongs solely to the governor of each state, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

However, the New Hampshire Executive Council is responsible for approving all contracts involving at least $25,000 or an agreement that would result in the state accepting funds, according to an Executive Council spokesperson. Under New Hampshire law, the governor sets the Executive Council’s agenda but does not have a vote.

“The governor does not vote as part of the council,” the spokesperson said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “He does have an ability that is very, very rarely exercised to override the Executive Council, but that is almost never done.”

As a result, the alternative-RAN contract between the state and Rivada Networks—selected as New Hampshire’ alternative-RAN vendor last year—will be considered by the Executive Council, according to the Executive Council spokesperson and John Stevens, New Hampshire’s single point of contact (SPOC).

“All of the contracts would go before the governor and council,” Stevens said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “The difference being that, in an opt-in situation, there was no contract, so the Executive Council would have had no say on anything. Now, at least they’ll have a say.

“It’s our mission now to get before the council and advise them as to the opportunities that are provided by the alternative plan.”

When Sununu announced his “opt-out” decision for New Hampshire, AT&T released a statement from Chris Sambar—AT&T’s senior vice president for FirstNet—that “we remain hopeful New Hampshire will continue to assess the substantial risks associated with an opt-out proposal of an unproven vendor.”

Today, an AT&T outlined the coverage available to New Hampshire under an “opt-in” scenario—an offer that will continue to be offered to the state until the “opt-in/opt-out” decision deadline passes on Dec. 28.

“If New Hampshire opts in, our additional FirstNet build will result in a network that covers 99% of the Granite State’s population and 98% of the state’s geography,” according to a statement AT&T e-mailed to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “There is no other provider that can bring this level of coverage to New Hampshire, including the North Country.”