Georgia becomes 31st state to make FirstNet ‘opt-in’ announcement
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal 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 Georgia the 31st state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.
“We are pleased Georgia is opting in to partner with FirstNet and AT&T to provide innovative communication technologies that will help us more effectively do our jobs,” said Georgia State Firefighters Association President Joey Hartley said in a prepared statement. “During emergencies, it is critical for us to have a fully functional network to communicate with one another and coordinate our response. There is no doubt FirstNet better equips us with the modern technology needed to save lives.”
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.
With Deal’s announcement, Georgia becomes the seventh state to announce an “opt-in” decision after issuing a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from vendors willing to deploy and maintain an alternative RAN. Previously, the states of Michigan, Arizona, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and North Carolina issued RFPs but later saw their governors announce “opt-in” decisions.
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.
Prior to Georgia’s decision, 30 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, Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and North Carolina—had announced their “opt-in” decisions, as did the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico territories.
Meanwhile, the District of Columbia and 11 states have issued an RFP without having their governors announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision to date: Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. Of these states, New Hampshire is only state to announce the winner of its procurement—Rivada Networks.
Eight governors in the following states have not announced an “opt-in” decision or had state officials issue an RFP seeking a potential alternative RAN vendor: California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota.
“FirstNet will provide the coverage, experience and next-generation technologies our first responders need and deserve,” said Bill Leahy, president of AT&T Georgia. “AT&T is proud to work with Gov. Deal to bring this dedicated, interoperable public-safety broadband network to Georgia, and connect its public-safety community to advanced technologies that will help save lives.”