Final States Opt In to FirstNet, N.H. Reverses Opt-Out Decision
Thursday, December 28, 2017 | Comments
The final four states that had not announced an opt-in or opt-out decision opted in to their First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) state plans on the final day to make a decision. New Hampshire reversed course and opted in as well.

New York and Mississippi made their announcements earlier in the day while Florida and California waited until late on Dec. 28 to opt in.

California was the last to make its announcement with California Office of Emergency Services (OES) Director Mark Ghilarducci saying that California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. approved California to opt in to the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan.

“While significant progress was made, more work is needed for the FirstNet state plan to ultimately be a successful initiative that provides a durable public-safety communications network,” Ghilarducci said in a letter.

The letter from Brown to FirstNet CEO Mike Poth made it clear the state is not completely satisfied with its state plan.

“While California remains concerned that the proposed plan does not meet all our state needs, California is opting into the plan with the expectation that our concerns will be addressed throughout our partnership,” the letter said. “California looks forward to working with FirstNet to address the gaps in the proposed plan throughout the 25-year deployment and implementation period.”

California had released a request for proposals (RFP) for an alternative plan to compare with the FirstNet state plan. However, Verizon did not bid and accused FirstNet of hindering competition. AT&T then agreed to pay about $14.5 million for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications Systems (LA-RICS) public-safety broadband network.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also accepted the FirstNet and AT&T plan for his state. "Florida has decided to participate in the deployment of the nationwide, interoperable broadband network as proposed in the FirstNet state plan ... I believe this is in the best interest for Florida taxpayers," said Scott.

A Florida committee in November had recommended that the state opt in.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York will join the FirstNet NPSBN to be created for the public-safety community.

"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," Cuomo said. "The entire state, from the Great Lakes to the most remote areas of the Adirondacks to New York City, must have seamless communications for our public-safety community so that they can get more information quickly, make better informed decisions, and save lives."

The final, accepted plan states that AT&T will expand coverage in rural areas such as the Adirondacks, in urban areas such as in buildings and the subway system and along waterways such as the Great Lakes and Long Island Sound. The AT&T plan will also improve interoperability to support better coordination with border states and Canada and make the cost of services and devices more affordable for smaller communities, a statement from the governor said.

"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,” said FirstNet’s Poth. “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-speed wireless connection to rural and remote areas of the state, FirstNet will improve connectivity and foster innovation for law enforcement, fire and EMS."

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant also accepted the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state's public-safety community.

"I've determined this is the best deal with the least amount of risk for taxpayers," said Bryant. "It will provide our first responders with the tools they need to keep Mississippians safe."

An AT&T statement said FirstNet and AT&T worked directly with the Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission to ensure that AT&T would expand rural coverage beyond what is available from commercial carriers, provide quick access to deployable network assets and offer feature-rich services at competitive prices.

The three territories of American Samoa, Guam and North Mariana Islands have not announced a decision. The three territories have until March 12 to make an opt-out decision because their final plans were delivered later than the other states and territories.

Track the opt-in and opt-out status of states, along with other FirstNet information, here.

Editor’s Note: The original story posted Dec. 28 was updated Dec. 29.

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