FirstNet to release ‘official’ state plans next week to most states, territories
FirstNet will distribute its final state plans—described as “official” state plans—next week to governors in most states and territories, which will start the statutory 90-day process for these governors to make “opt-in” or “opt-out” decisions by mid-December, a FirstNet official said yesterday.
Rich Reed, FirstNet’s chief customer officer, told FirstNet board members meeting during scheduled committee meetings that responses to comments—Aug. 4—to the initial state plans are being completed and integrated into the final state plans that will be distributed next week.
“We have received a lot of questions, and we’ve gone through a very exhaustive process to structure those responses,” Reed said during the board committee meetings. “The team has done a great job of getting together with regional subject-matter experts, the state subject-matter experts and AT&T to make sure that we are providing the right contextual responses. Many of those are going through the legal review process right now.
“We do intend to make those state plans official and start the 90-day window next week, just like we planned. We have some hurdles—I won’t lie to you—but we do plan to keep to that schedule, as we outlined.”
FirstNet officials repeatedly have indicated that the organization’s goal is to distribute the final state plans to governors within 45 days after receiving comments on the initial state plans, which would be on Monday or Tuesday of next week. However, Reed did not specify a date for the release of the official state plans next week.
No clarifications were made about state plans for U.S. territories in the South Pacific—Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Island—which still have not received initial state plans.
FirstNet responses from the Aug. 4 comments will be documented and shared with each state and territory, as well as integrating the information into the official state plans, Reed said.
“The plan has not materially changed,” he said. “What we’ve done is we’ve made it more clear, and—in areas where states have had questions—we’ve clarified it.”
One key piece of new information in the official state plans will be the amount of construction-grant funding expected to be available to each state and territory, if any governors choose to pursue the “opt-out” alternative. The construction-grant program, if needed, will be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Under the law that established FirstNet, governors in all 56 states and territories have the choice of making an “opt-in” decision—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan and allowing AT&T to build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state’s borders at no cost to the state—or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which would require the state to be responsible for building and maintaining the RAN for the next 25 years.
AT&T will build the FirstNet RAN in “opt-in” states or territories at no cost to each jurisdiction, but local public-safety entities will be responsible for paying subscription costs and end-user device expenses. However, the law that established FirstNet stipulates that individual public-safety agencies and potential first-responder users are not required to subscribe to the FirstNet service.
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 September. Thus far, 18 states—Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia, New Mexico, Michigan, Maine, Montana, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Tennessee and Nebraska—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.