NTIA Releases Requirements for Opt-Out Grants, Entering SMLA with FirstNet
Tuesday, November 28, 2017 | Comments

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released the application requirements necessary for states that decide to opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). One of the requirements requires states to provide a letter of intent to FirstNet indicating the state’s willingness to enter into a spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA) and make the payments included in the SMLA.

The State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) provides states with guidance on the FirstNet opt-out application process. The SAPP NOFO can be accessed at www.grants.gov using the Funding Opportunity Number 2018-NTIA-SAPP-01, and is available here.

If a state wants to assume responsibility for the construction, operation, maintenance and improvement of its radio access network (RAN) to interoperate with the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) and has received approval of its alternative plan from the FCC, the state must apply to NTIA for the authority to enter into a spectrum manager lease from FirstNet. The state may also apply for RAN construction grant funding.

The SAPP NOFO lays out the application requirements necessary to meet five key statutory demonstrations focused on ongoing interoperability, financial stability, technical compliance, and comparable security, coverage, quality of service and timelines. Taken together, the demonstrations will establish whether a state is prepared to provide public safety with interoperable and reliable broadband service over time consistent with the rest of the NPSBN.

State officials and industry experts have questioned information included in draft SMLAs distributed to states. The SMLAs include proposed termination payments in the millions — and billions in at least two instances — of dollars for some states, along with prohibiting separate core networks, adoption targets and interoperability requirements.

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