Washington, Oregon, D.C. make FirstNet ‘opt-in’ announcements
Leaders for Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia on Tuesday announced that they have accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T, meaning 45 states and three territories have made “opt-in” announcements just two days before the Dec. 28 deadline.
With today’s announcements, only four states—California, Florida, Mississippi and New York—have governors that have not announced FirstNet “opt-in/opt-out” decisions. So far, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has made the only announcement that his state will pursue the “opt-out” alternative several weeks ago, but the state has not submitted its official notification, according to a FirstNet spokesperson.
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.
Overall, 90% of states that cover more than 91% of the geography of the U.S. have announced “opt-in” decisions. However, those states include only 74.1% of the U.S. population in states, because three of the four most-populous states in the country—California, Florida and New York—have not made “opt-in” announcements.
With the District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser’s announcement, all three non-state entities facing the Dec. 28 deadline have made “opt-in” announcements, with the Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands being among the first states and territories to make their announcements. Three Pacific islands—Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands—did not receive their state plans until this month and face a March 18 deadline for “opt-in/opt-out” decisions.
Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia all issued issuing a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids from vendors willing to deploy and maintain an alternative RAN, meaning 16 states and territories have announced opt-in decisions after releasing an RFP. Previously, the states of Michigan, Arizona, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Georgia, Vermont, Missouri, Wisconsin Colorado, Massachusetts and Connecticut issued RFPs but later had their governors announce “opt-in” decisions.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown made their “opt-in” announcements in a joint press release. The states previously worked together to issue a joint RFP seeking bidders willing to build and maintain an alternative RAN under an “opt-out” scenario.
California and Mississippi are the only states that issued an RFP without having their governors announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision. Florida and New York are the only states that have not announced an “opt-in” decision or had state officials issue an RFP seeking a potential alternative RAN vendor:
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 preemptive access across AT&T’s commercial networks immediately.
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.