FirstNet hopes to pursue an ‘aggressive’ timeline, Johnson says
What is in this article?
FirstNet reaches out to states
In fact, Ginn already has written letters to governors in all states, letting them know that the FirstNet board has been established and that the relationship with them "is a critical one to our success," Johnson said.
"We're working right now to build what that contact [with governors] looks like and what the ongoing discussions sounds like, because it is an ongoing, two-way conversation, not a one-sided output," he said.
Under the law, governors will have 90 days to determine whether their state will be part of the FirstNet nationwide deployment plan or if their state will opt-out of the FirstNet plan and instead build public-safety LTE on its own. While it is "premature" for any state to make an opt-out decision before FirstNet develops its plan, Johnson said he understands the need for states to take the steps necessary to prepare for this decision.
With this in mind, Johnson urged states to participate in the National Governors Association (NGA) and to learn as much as possible about their state's existing communication infrastructure, as well as other assets and resources that can be leveraged to make LTE coverage in the state a reality. This information will be valuable when consulting with FirstNet on its ultimate plan and in helping governors make their opt-out decisions.
"The more you know about your infrastructure, about your state, about its coverage, what assets you have available — all that you can do to learn about your state will prepare you better for the conversation that we're going to have with the state," Johnson said. "'Get ready now,' — that's our message."
At the same time, the FirstNet board has considerable work to do, so it can make a compelling case for each state to participate in its LTE network plans, Johnson said.
"At the end of the day, the states are looking to have their needs met in a cost-effective fashion," he said. "So the burden is really on us to make that case, and we're putting all of our emphasis on being prepared to make the case. What the state will need to know is, 'What do I have? How does my system operate today? What are they offering me?'
"Only when we draw up the FirstNet proposal will the governor in each state have a really good idea about which [option] they find most favorable. I think I would be sitting on the wrong board if I weren't completely optimistic that we're going to make a persuasive case that it ought to be FirstNet, but the burden is on us to do so."