FirstNet Details Next Phases of Strategic Roadmap
Thursday, March 17, 2016 | Comments

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) updated its strategic roadmap during a three-hour online teleconference board meeting March 16.

The FirstNet board launched the strategic roadmap two years ago. The entity is entering phase three of the roadmap with evaluation of the request for proposals (RFP) bids planned in May. Phase three includes the contract award and establishing draft state plans.

FirstNet President TJ Kennedy said staff is working with the FCC on the items it needs to adopt for the states that select the alternative radio access network (RAN) or opt-out option. The National Telecommunications and Industry Administration (NTIA) also plays a role in opt out by administering a grant program for states that opt out. “Those are important pieces we need to do going forward,” Kennedy said.

The FCC is charged with reviewing and approving a state’s plan to deploy its own RAN. David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), was asked why the commission hasn’t begun a rulemaking on the process during a House hearing last month.

Furth said the FCC’s work will be in line with the planned release of the first state plans in the second quarter of 2017.

“We have no intention to slow walk this process,” said Furth during the hearing in response to a question from a lawmaker. “We have in fact been working with FirstNet on their timeline. The FCC is capable of conducting a rulemaking quickly. … Our focus is going to be on that statute and how we implement it. This is the right time to do it because now we have the RFP; it would have been premature before the RFP. We think it will build a better record. We think the timing is right.”

FirstNet Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson said she is concerned about states having clarity on opt-out process and wants states to get the information they need quickly.

During phase four of FirstNet’s strategic roadmap, it will deliver draft state plans and then finalize the state plans. FirstNet is planning a synchronous delivery of all 56 state and territory plans. FirstNet officials noted that is not an easy task.

“Obviously whoever the winning bidder is will play a big part, but it’s a lot of work and we’ll need all hands on deck to get this done,” Swenson said.

“The states will have to organize their key resources to be at the table,” Kennedy said.

Governors’ decisions will follow, along with updated network policies from FirstNet. National deployment will begin in initial markets, along with the opt-out state plans due to the FCC from states.

“We committed to and achieved our roadmap milestones on time during the first two years, and there will be no let up going forward,” said Swenson. “We have laid out an aggressive schedule to ensure progress continues along the roadmap in coordination with public safety, the states and federal agencies.”

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