FirstNet hits 50% ‘opt-in’ threshold as Indiana makes announcement
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb today announced that he has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of his state, making Indiana the 25th state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.
“Indiana’s first responders need fast, accurate information to keep Hoosiers safe,” Holcomb said in a prepared statement. “This new communications network will help those on the front lines coordinate better and faster to serve and protect our citizens and communities.”
Indiana’s Integrated Public Safety Commission (IPSC) has been working for the past five years to educate the public-safety community within the state about FirstNet and gather feedback, according to a press release on the Indiana state-government website.
“This network will prevent communication difficulties and inefficiencies in times of crisis and confusion,” IPSC Executive Director David Vice said in a prepared statement. “Indiana has conducted an unprecedented effort to reach out to public-safety officials and decision makers across the state to ensure FirstNet is right for our state.”
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.
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 on Sept. 29. Governors in 53 states and territories that received initial state plans on June 19—the exceptions being the South Pacific territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Island, which will have a separate timetable—are required to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions by Dec. 28.
Prior to Indiana’s decision, 24 other states—Virginia, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia, New Mexico, Michigan, Maine, Montana, Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, Hawaii, Alaska, Tennessee, Nebraska, Maryland, Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota and Alabama—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.
With Indiana’s announcement, exactly 50% of the 50 states have announced “opt-in” decisions. In addition, more than 50% of all states and territories that received initial state plans in June—27 of 53—have made “opt-in” announcements.
AT&T officials have stated that deployment of LTE on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet could begin as early as this year in certain parts of the country. Public-safety agencies in “opt-in” states are eligible to sign FirstNet contracts that give first responders priority access across AT&T’s commercial networks immediately and preemptive access by the end of the year.
AT&T will build the FirstNet RAN in “opt-in” states or territories at no cost to each jurisdiction, although 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.