N.H. Governor Asks NTIA to Clarify How It Will Help Opt-Out States
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | Comments

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu sent a letter to National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator David Redl asking NTIA to clarify how it will support states that opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

Sununu’s letter acknowledged on the upcoming Dec. 28 deadline for states to opt in or out of the nationwide public-safety network (NPSBN) and said there is still a lot of information states do not yet have that is critical to their decision-making process.

“Despite this, however, states like mine have spent significant time and resources to review alternatives so that they can make the choice that best serves first responders by the December 28 deadline,” Sununu’s letter said. “Fortunately, the FCC has given states six months after that date to conduct a request for proposal, and then two months after that to apply to the FCC for an interoperability review.

“So at any time up to and during that review, we could still opt in to FirstNet,” the letter said. “We have spent our time, so far, seriously considering our options and will continue to do so.”

Sununu also wrote that he was disappointed that in requesting more information, the state received a confidential draft lease agreement that included “hundreds of millions of dollars in spectrum lease payments, termination fees and disincentive payments.”

“It is unsurprising that FirstNet’s terms should have sent a chill through our process, and I assume other state processes,” the letter said. However, FirstNet CEO Mike Poth’s testimony during a congressional hearing that the fees were “unlikely worst case scenarios” and that they were “a draft of some concepts that would not even be discussed until later in the process” lessened some of the state’s concerns, the letter said.

Sununu wrote that it was important that Poth’s rejection of the fees came at a congressional hearing because it allowed state decision-makers to put the lease terms in proper context.

“This emphasizes the immediate need to better understand and clarify FirstNet’s handling of the opt-out process,” Sununu’s letter concluded. “We would ask that NTIA similarly clarify its intent to help states that opt out be successful in their efforts. Understanding how NTIA views its role in reviewing and approving any fees would be enormously helpful. All states want the best for public safety, but under the current structure, that will only happen with vigilant, focused oversight.”

In October, the New Hampshire Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC) voted to recommend that the state opt out of FirstNet. Sununu responded to that recommendation by creating a committee to review opting out and proposed opt out fees.

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