Vermont Legislators Send Letter with Concerns, Questions to FirstNet
Monday, November 20, 2017 | Comments

Three U.S. Congressmen from Vermont sent a letter to First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) CEO Mike Poth with questions and concerns about the FirstNet opt-in or out process.

“Our top priority is the safety of Vermont’s first responders and their ability to best protect and serve Vermonters, and thus, we want to make sure the process is transparent and that whatever system is adopted provides the most comprehensive and reliable coverage,” said the letter from Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch.

In the letter, which was dated Nov. 14, the Congressmen wrote that they have heard concerns about the opt-in/out decision from constituents, including some first responders, and wanted FirstNet to address some of those concerns.

The questions asked by the Congressman included:
• Will FirstNet work with Vermont stakeholders to ensure that any questions members of the state’s Public Safety Broadband Network Commission are addressed? The letter specifically referenced a Nov. 9 submission from the commission to FirstNet with a list of proposed sites that could significantly improve coverage throughout the state.
• What can Vermont first responders expect in quality and scope of coverage? The Congressmen noted that both the commission and constituents have expressed concerns that the coverage included in the state’s current plan from FirstNet and AT&T is not enough to meet Vermont’s basic needs.
• What recourse would Vermont have it AT&T does not deliver the network coverage promised?
• What penalties would AT&T face if it does not attract enough customers to meet subscription targets, and would those penalties be returned specifically to Vermont for reinvestment to improve the network?
• Will AT&T provide Vermont with reliable pricing and rate information?
• If Vermont decides to opt out, will FirstNet work with the state to develop an alternative plan so that it can build the best network possible for Vermont’s first responders?

In October, two Vermont residents sued the Department of Commerce (DOC) alleging that it and its National Telecommunications and Information Technology (NTIA) and FirstNet components had illegally denied Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents related to FirstNet. The judge in the case, expedited it so that it could be resolved prior to the Dec. 28 deadline for state’s to opt in or out of FirstNet.

The Vermont broadband commission on Nov. 20 recommended to Gov. Phil Scott that the state opt in to the network. Would you like to comment on this story? Find our comments system below.

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