Guam becomes first Pacific territory to make FirstNet ‘opt-in’ announcement
Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo today announced that he has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T, making Guam the first Pacific territory to “opt in” to the FirstNet system.
“Communication is critical when a typhoon or other disaster strikes our island,” Calvo said in a prepared statement. “FirstNet is another step toward improving our connectivity amongst first responders, which enhances their safety, as well as their ability to safeguard and respond to emergencies in our island community.”
Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio echoed this sentiment.
“With our participation in this nationwide program, we’ll take a step to addressing our communications needs for first responders,” Tenorio said in a prepared statement. “Our geography here on Guam expands well beyond the popular hiking grounds in the hills and valleys of the south—it continues into miles of ocean surrounding our island.”
Charles Esteves, Guam’s administrator for the Office of Civil Defense, said he believes that FirstNet will be very helpful to first responders in the island territory.
“Gov. Calvo’s decision for Guam to join FirstNet will provide needed benefits to our island’s first responders and improve overall emergency response and recovery,” Esteves said in a prepared statement. “FirstNet provides a dedicated voice and data network for first responders, greatly increasing their ability to maintain communications and situational awareness during the most arduous times.”
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.
Governors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands all announced “opt-in” decisions by last week’s Dec. 28 deadline. Guam is the first of three Pacific territories—American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands are the others—to announce an “opt-in/opt-out” decision.
Because they did not receive FirstNet deployment plans until December, the three Pacific territories have until March 12 to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions.
With the early “opt-in” decision, Guam is expected to be included in the initial FirstNet task order to build out the network. Although AT&T has been able to do engineering and preparatory work to deploy new FirstNet sites and begin operations on the 20 MHz of 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum, the carrier must receive a task order from FirstNet before installing infrastructure.
Public-safety agencies in “opt-in” states and territories 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.