Some FirstNet ‘opt-in’ states considering RFPs to seek alternative-RAN proposals, Ganley says
At least three states with governors that have announced FirstNet “opt-in” decisions may issue requests for proposals (RFPs) that ask bidders to submit proposals for an alternative radio access network (RAN), Rivada Networks CEO Declan Ganley said yesterday.
Ganley made the statement during a hearing before committees of the Pennsylvania legislature, when he also reiterated Rivada Networks’ legal opinion that governors’ “opt-in” decisions to date will not be binding until the final decision deadline passes on Dec. 28.
“No state has yet opted in; no state has yet opted out,” Ganley said during the hearing. “The opt outs happen and begin on Dec. 28. That’s legally when opt out starts; it cannot start before that.
“The letters that have been signed—that we are aware of—with states are letters of intent to opt in. We know that, in the cases of at least three of those states that have signed those letters, they are now seriously considering doing an RFP, following the lead of your state and a few other states—18 in total—that decided to put out RFPs.”
Ganley later stated his belief that “you are going to see RFPs being issued from some of those [opt-in] states very soon.”
In August, Ganley said Rivada Networks’ legal advisers indicated to him that the “opt-in” decisions announced by governors of states and territories prior to the release of official state plans in late September were not binding.
At that time, officials for FirstNet and AT&T disputed Ganley’s notion that announced “opt-in” decision are not binding.
“Each of the opt-ins is a binding decision by the state/territory to participate in the FirstNet build of the nationwide public-safety broadband network,” according to a FirstNet statement provided to IWCE’s Urgent Communications in August. “The governor’s decision is immediately beneficial to public safety, as priority services are made available in the state or territory.”
Similarly, AT&T spokesman Jeff Kobs in August said the company “vetted very carefully” the binding nature of “opt-in” announcements during the period before the final state plans are issued in mid-September and determined that they are binding decision.
“From my perspective, that [Ganley’s statement that opt-in announcements to date are not binding] is very much misinformation,” Kobs told IWCE’s Urgent Communications in August.
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 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.
Thus far, 25 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, Alabama and Indiana—have announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.
Of these “opt-in” states and territories, three—Michigan, Arizona and Alabama—issued an RFP exploring alternative-RAN options before announcing the “opt-in” decision.
With Indiana’s announcement last week, 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.
Meanwhile, 14 states have issued an RFP without having their governors announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision to date: Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Of these states, New Hampshire is only state to announce the winner of its procurement—Rivada Networks.