FirstNet Readies Checklist to Drive State Meetings in July
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 | Comments

Image courtesy FirstNet

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) plans to begin state consultations in July. FirstNet is working on a checklist for state points of contact (SPOCs) that will drive the beginning of the first state consultations.

The checklist, available April 30, will provide items for states to accomplish to ensure they are ready for a state meeting with FirstNet, said TJ Kennedy, deputy general manager.

FirstNet held a quarterly webinar with the SPOCs April 2, where it laid out the timeline to reach the state consultations. Once an initial consultation package is delivered to states April 30, FirstNet will schedule individual conference calls with each state during May and June. States then return the completed checklist to FirstNet and indicate their readiness to conduct an initial consultation.

Kennedy in December said the state meetings would begin in the first quarter of 2014. “We’ve been working on an initial checklist,” Kennedy said March 27. “It’s a draft checklist, and that will drive starting consultations.”

The checklist is one of the first steps in a detailed 46-step state plan process map that shows all the steps necessary from preparation to initial consultation to design reviews to a final state plan. (See Slide 14 at this link.)

FirstNet is also conducting workshops tied to the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) where staff is getting feedback from state and local officials on the draft checklist. The first workshops, one in Phoenix and one in Atlanta, were held in March with more to follow.

SLIGP has two phases, the first of which will last the full three years of the grant program. Phase one aims to help each state establish a governance structure to consult with FirstNet. Phase two involves 50 percent of the grant funds to collect data and continue governance activities. Phase two won’t start until FirstNet determines what data it needs and what format it needs to be collected.

Kennedy said no timelines are set for SLIGP phase two. “Phase two will start when it needs to start,” he said. “We’re not ready to work through phase two.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has been holding coverage workshops to help states determine broadband coverage needs. DHS has held coverage workshops with 35 states and territories with two more scheduled in the coming weeks. The workshops aren’t mandatory but have been helpful to many states, Kennedy said.

At its March board meeting, FirstNet released a program roadmap instead of a business plan, however, Kennedy said the FirstNet staff is “doing lots of business planning.”

“The drivers are things like RFPs (requests for proposals) that will help drive some of the business planning,” he said. “We have a lot of data and that may come from things like RFPs.”

The program roadmap includes two main RFPs, one for a comprehensive network and one for network services and equipment. Other RFPs will include National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) resources and spectrum relocation. Kennedy said the NEPA and relocation RFPs will be smaller than the first two and are for services.

One slide in the SPOC presentation outlines the tasks FirstNet must complete “to further business planning,” including staffing FirstNet, completing the RFP processes and testing and validating network features, conducting state and outreach and consultations, and conducting a public notice and comment process.

In addition to the SPOC webinar, the FirstNet outreach and state consultation teams met with staff of the Washington, D.C.-based associations that make up the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) April 2. Presentations were followed by a question and answer session and open discussion.

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