FirstNet Delivers State Plans
Monday, June 19, 2017 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T released state plans to U.S. states and territories. The plans, delivered through online portals, provide most of the information such as coverage, cost and timelines that states need to make decisions about whether to opt into the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) or develop their own radio access network (RAN).

"With this step, we're ready to deliver the first nationwide network for public safety, by public safety," said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. "This network will drive innovation, security and interoperability for public safety across the country. It's what EMS, fire and law enforcement spent years fighting for and need right now."

States and territories can spend up to 45 days, or until Aug. 4, to review the plans. The states and territories can exchange feedback with FirstNet before an official 90-day clock starts for each state or territory governor to make an "opt-in/opt-out" decision on its state plan. The final decision deadline for states is around the end of the year.

One of the biggest questions yet to be answered is how much AT&T will charge for the service. Officials declined to give specific pricing information on a press call, but said the state portals include that information for state officials and it will be similar to what they are paying now. “States will find the pricing very compelling,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T – FirstNet.

Last week, AT&T and FirstNet officials said public-safety users will be divided into two tiers: primary and primary extended. Primary users will include firefighters, police officers and EMS, and there will be a difference in pricing between the two levels of priority, said FirstNet Chief Customer Officer Rich Reed.

FirstNet officials said some information, including the cost of accessing the core network for states that opt out, is not included in the initial state plan portal information and FirstNet and AT&T will continually add information to the portal. They will alert states when new information is added, including details from the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

“The FirstNet state plan comes fully funded and will require no additional financial resources from the states to deploy or operate the network [for states that opt in],” a statement said.

FirstNet began state consultation meetings in 2013, followed by more detailed, targeted meetings last year. FirstNet awarded the request for proposals (RFP) to AT&T and its team earlier this year.

"When we announced our public-private partnership in March, we committed to begin building this unprecedented network and technology ecosystem for public safety later this year," said Sambar. "Later begins now. States, territories and public safety have expressed their desire to move quickly. That's what we're helping to enable today."

FirstNet President TJ Kennedy said 49 states have scheduled follow-up meetings with FirstNet and AT&T about the state plans. Thirty of those meetings are set for the next 14 days.

Three U.S. territories — American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands — did not receive their state plans, Reed said. “We are still continuing to work with them before we deliver the state plans,” he said.

"Joining the FirstNet network is one of the most economical and technologically advanced decisions a leader can make for the safety of its residents and first responders — as well as for the safety and security of the country," said former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "The network will help transform how the nation's fire, law enforcement and EMS personnel communicate. First responders will be able to coordinate and respond more quickly and effectively during emergencies and everyday situations."

Michigan, Colorado, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Alabama have released RFPs for alternative public-safety LTE RANs. New Hampshire awarded its state FirstNet RFP to Rivada Networks last year. California released a request for information (RFI) for a statewide public-safety RAN last November.

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