Colorado Opts In, Early Builder Network in Question
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 | Comments

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced his decision to accept the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the state’s public-safety community.

“We are opting in to allow FirstNet to make an investment in Colorado that promises to make our state more resilient against threats to our safety,” said Hickenlooper. “We, together with Colorado’s governing board, are confident that the investment will not only benefit public safety, but also provide much needed telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas of our state.”

Colorado is the 40th state or territory to announce its decision to opt in to FirstNet, and the 11th state to do so after evaluating proposals from other potential vendors. Last month, the Colorado committee tasked with reviewing the responses to the state’s request for proposals (RFP) for potential FirstNet opt-out partners issued a conditional award to a combined bid from Rivada Networks and Macquarie. The award was contingent on the FirstNet Colorado Governing Body’s (FNCGB) recommendation to the governor and the governor’s ultimate decision to opt in or out of the proposed FirstNet state plan.

One of five early builder networks is located in Adams County, Colorado. The public-safety LTE network was not mentioned during a press conference or in a press release about the Colorado decision. Adams County received a $12.1 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant to fund the network that covered Adams County as well as Denver International Airport (DIA).

"We are in continued discussions with Adams County to see what current assets could potentially be integrated into the FirstNet network in Colorado as we work to bring the state the first-of-its-kind public-safety broadband network," an AT&T spokesman said.

Last week, AT&T agreed to pay $14.5 million for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications Systems (LA-RICS) early builder network.

Colorado Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Brian Shepherd has criticized the FirstNet process and challenges to opting out. He said the spectrum management lease agreement (SMLA) that opt-out states would be required to sign to access band 14 spectrum was not compliant with the Colorado constitution, and FirstNet officials were reluctant to modify it.

“We are very concerned at the punitive nature of the SMLA and its impact on the state's ability to exercise the statutory right to opt out of the national plan,” Shepherd said in November. “FirstNet would not supply supporting documentation for the lease payment amounts, penalties or termination fees, so it’s difficult to gauge the validity and potential impact.”

“We need to connect our first responders now. From rural to urban communities, public-safety professionals throughout Colorado put their lives at risk every day responding to disasters and critical situations. That is why the state of Colorado spent years visiting with public safety teams statewide, thoroughly reviewing solutions for Colorado,” said Eric Tade, chief of Denver Fire Department and chair of the FNCGB. “Our conclusion: opting in to FirstNet is the best solution for Colorado.”

Find the status of each state's FirstNet decision with our FirstNet resource.

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