FirstNet delivers initial state plans to U.S. territories in the South Pacific
FirstNet yesterday announced that it has delivered initial state plans outlining public-safety LTE deployment plans to governors in the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, although no timetable has been established yet for those governors to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions.
FirstNet made the announcement on Tuesday, providing the three South Pacific territories with the kind of initial plans that were released to all 50 states and three U.S. territories on June 19.
“FirstNet is pleased to announce the delivery of individual buildout plans to the three Pacific territories—Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa—following extensive consultation with those territories,” according to a FirstNet statement. “Building on our work with those territories, FirstNet looks forward to holding onsite engagements to get their feedback on the plans before starting the official 90-day clock for their governors to make an ‘opt-in/opt-out’ decision on their plans.”
When FirstNet released initial plans to the other 53 states and territories, officials outlined a 45-day period for states to provide feedback and ask questions, as well as plans for another 45-day period for FirstNet to develop responses and integrate them into the official state plans. However, no timetable for feedback and responses has been established for the three Pacific territories, according to FirstNet.
“We are working with those territories on an appropriate review schedule leading to the official notification to their governors, which would start the 90-day period for a decision,” according to a FirstNet statement provided in response to questions from IWCE’s Urgent Communications.
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 the 53 states and territories that received initial state plans on June 19 are required to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions by Dec. 28.
So far, governors in 25 states have announced “opt-in” decisions, as well as two territories—the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. No governors have made an “opt-out” decision yet, but 13 states have initiated procurement processes seeking vendors willing to build and maintain an alternative LTE radio access network (RAN) under a potential “opt-out” scenario. In addition, the states of Washington and Oregon are expected to release their joint RFPs tomorrow.
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.