New York becomes 47th state to make FirstNet ‘opt-in’ announcement
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo 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 New York the 47th state—not including three territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system by today’s deadline.
“During emergencies and disasters, every second counts, and ensuring our first responders have the tools they need during a crisis is vital to the safety and security of all New Yorkers,” Gov. Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “The entire state—from the Great Lakes to the most remote areas of the Adirondacks to New York City—must have seamless communication for our public-safety community, so that they can get more information quickly, make better informed decisions, and save lives.”
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger L. Parrino, Sr., echoed this sentiment.
“It is important to recognize that our first responders need reliable tools to complete their mission at all times, and this is especially true when communicating important information with our local, state and federal partners during a disaster or emergency,” Parrino said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to the completion of the nationwide public-safety broadband network and its ability to provide dedicated access to the first-responder community when it is needed most.”
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.
Cuomo’s announcement followed an “opt-in” announcement from Mississippi and is expected to be one of many today, which is the deadline for governors to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions. If a governor does not make a decision today, the state will be treated the same as an “opt-in” state, with AT&T deploying and maintaining the RAN for the state.
“It is especially meaningful to welcome New York into FirstNet, as it was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that led to our very creation,” FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said in a prepared statement. “Gov. Cuomo's decision will bring expanded and enhanced communications capabilities to the great state of New York. From giving public safety in New York City dedicated spectrum to bringing a reliable, high -peed wireless connection to rural and remote areas of the state, FirstNet will improve connectivity and foster innovation for law enforcement, fire and EMS.”
With the Mississippi and New York announcements, California and Florida are the only states with 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.
California is the only remaining state that issued an RFP without having their governors announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision. Florida is the only state that has not announced an “opt-in” decision or had state officials issue an RFP seeking a potential alternative RAN vendor:
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.
Overall, 94% of states that cover more than 93.8% of the geography of the U.S. have announced “opt-in” decisions. However, those states include only 74.1% of the U.S. population within states, because two of the four most-populous states in the country—California and Florida—have not 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 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.
“This is a special day for the brave men and women that serve New York. And I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership and commitment to public safety,” Marissa Shorenstein, AT&T’s president of the Northeast Region, said in a prepared statement. “Opting in to FirstNet will put New York's first responders on the cutting edge of innovative communications, helping them operate faster, safer and more effectively when lives are on the line. We're honored to bring this life-saving solution to the state.”