Firefighter Association Disagrees with Vermont’s FirstNet State Plan Process
Monday, June 26, 2017 | Comments

A group of Vermont firefighters wants the state to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for a state-built radio access network (RAN) to compare with the state plan from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T. The Vermont State Firefighters' Association (VSFA) said the state should simultaneously evaluate an opt-out RFP and the FirstNet state plan.

Ron Kumetz, the VSFA member on the Vermont Public Safety Broadband Commission (PSBC), said most cellphones paid for by the state are on the Verizon Wireless network for coverage reasons. “I am reluctant to believe that AT&T is going to improve their coverage enough to make them a viable option,” Kumetz said.

The PSBC’s website outlines its process for evaluating the state plan, including a 45-day evaluation process and a link where users can offer feedback. The commission review process includes evaluating the FirstNet plan, negotiating for improvements, determining a recommendation and considering alternative approaches if the PSBC decides to opt out.

“Vermont will have a minimum of six months to develop an alternative proposal and obtain federal approval for the plan,” the state website said. “The state must demonstrate it can build, fund and maintain a system comparable to that offered by FirstNet for the next 25 years.”

The FCC decided last week to allow an extra 60 days for states that opt out to complete an RFP process.

A VSFA press release said the state should proceed with a “provisional strategy of opting out of the proposed AT&T RAN unless AT&T's state plan for Vermont demonstrates that the plan represents the best possible coverage.” The release said Vermont should immediately issue an RFP for FirstNet RAN alternatives and plans from other carriers or carrier alliances that might include neighboring states.

The June 12 release also said Vermont should require drive tests and terrain propagation modeling to compare proposals.

A request for comment from state officials had not been returned by press time.

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