FirstNet Modifies SMLA for Potential Opt-Out States
Wednesday, December 20, 2017 | Comments

Nine days before the opt-out deadline of Dec. 28, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) clarified and made changes to its spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA), which opt-out states must sign to gain access to band 14 spectrum.

In an email sent Dec. 19 to the New Hampshire single point of contact (SPOC), FirstNet said that if the opt-out state buildout or operation of its radio access network (RAN) fails during the term of the SMLA, the state will be responsible only for the actual cost of re-establishing the RAN in the state.

“The revised SMLA makes clear that these actual costs will be recommended through an independent, third-party assessment,” said the email from Justin Shore, FirstNet senior counsel, government affairs.

An original SMLA said the state shall be obligated to pay to the government the entire cost of reconstituting a band 14 RAN in the state as determined by FirstNet and built in accordance with the FirstNet state plan, including the costs of constructing, operating, maintaining and improving the band 14 RAN in the state until the end of the originally agreed upon term of the SMLA.

The original SMLA also had adoption targets for each year of the 25-year agreement. The revised SMLA will require adherence to any user adoption assumptions provided by a state in its State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) application submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

“The SMLA provides the state with the ability to use FirstNet spectrum and requires that an opt-out state be responsible for the build, operation and upgrade of the state RAN for up to 25 years,” said the email.

Earlier this month, Colorado and California officials expressed concern about a lack of clarity regarding the SMLA from FirstNet. Colorado opted in to the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network this week.

“Since the release of a summary of the draft spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA) in October, FirstNet has been working with states to identify areas of concern and improvement,” Shore said in the Dec. 19 email. “Given these conversations and the feedback that we have received, we would like to provide you with updated information regarding the model SMLA.”

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