New Hampshire Reverses Opt-Out Decision, AT&T Commits to 48 Towers
Thursday, December 28, 2017 | Comments

New Hampshire has reserved its decision to opt out of the First Responder Network authority (FirstNet) state plan and will instead opt in with a commitment from AT&T to build 48 new towers across the state.

“While Rivada's plan remains the better option for New Hampshire, I have determined that the additional risk associated with being the only state to opt out creates too high a barrier for New Hampshire to continue down the opt-out path alone,” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a statement.

New Hampshire announced Dec. 7 it planned to opt out of the FirstNet and AT&T state plan and go with a Rivada Networks alternative plan.

The statement said state officials had extensive discussions with other governors across the country to help them understand the benefits of such a system.

“While we were successful in working with FirstNet to remove the unreasonable fees and penalties, the decision deadline of Dec. 28 approached too quickly for these other states to feel confident in an opt-out decision,” Sununu said. “As a result, it now appears likely that no other states will opt out.”

With the opt in, New Hampshire retained AT&T's commitment to build 48 new tower sites across the state. “These new sites will lead to a top-quality public-safety network for our first responders and enhanced coverage for all of our citizens,” Sununu said. “I look forward to working with AT&T as they begin the buildout and deployment of their New Hampshire plan, and I pledge to continue our efforts to ensure that FirstNet remains responsive to the public-safety needs of every state."

State officials continued to criticize the FirstNet process and praised Rivada Networks for a plan “that provides better coverage, more system control and an opportunity to share in the revenue streams of the business.” "It is unfortunate that the federal government did not provide states with sufficient clarity in time for most states to adequately evaluate their options," said New Hampshire Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes. "Because New Hampshire started early and conducted a thorough evaluation of both paths, we were presented with a strong opt-out plan that strengthened the state's negotiating position. I want to thank Rivada again for their efforts in developing an incredible plan for New Hampshire and wish them all the best in their future endeavors."

"I am immensely proud of the extraordinary efforts of the SIEC (Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee) and our entire state team throughout this process," State Interoperability Coordinator John Stevens said. "Together we conducted the nation's most thorough state-level review of available FirstNet options, negotiated hard on behalf of the state and its first responders, and ultimately obtained one of the best opt-in plan proposals of any state in the country.

“While we are disappointed that the regulatory and financial hurdles for opt-out ultimately proved too high, we are pleased that the state's vigorous pursuit of the opt-out path left us in a stronger position than any other state in the country."

In a statement, Rivada said it respected the governor's decision. "We salute New Hampshire’s vision and courage in selecting us," the statement said. "If more states shared the Granite State’s diligence, integrity and commitment to transforming public-safety communications, New Hampshire would not have had to stand alone at the deadline.

"We are proud to say that thanks to our efforts, first responders all over the country have gotten a better deal and better service than they could have hoped for without the competitive pressure we offered. Rivada will continue to work to transform the wireless industry through our open access wireless technology."

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