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FirstNet Delivers Updated State Plans, Official Notifications Still Pending

FirstNet Delivers Updated State Plans, Official Notifications Still Pending

By Sandra Wendelken, Editor, Mission Critical Communication 09-19-17

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T Sept. 19 delivered updated information to the state plan portals of the 53 states and territories where they delivered the original state plan information. State official notifications are expected “in the near future” and will begin the 90-day deadline for a governor’s opt-in or opt-out decision.

FirstNet Chief Customer Officer Rich Reed said the official notifications will include the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) maximum possible funding for each state under the State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP).

“Our intent is to make them available all at once,” Reed said.

In August, an NTIA official said the guidance document for its portion of the FirstNet opt-out process will be available by the time governors must make a final decision on their state plans, around the end of the year. But the umbrella construction funding available to a state if it opts out and its grant application is accepted will be available in the state official notifications.

All 53 states and territories will receive the final notification, but the notifications will be customized for states that have already opted in. In addition, new functionality that will present different views of projected coverage will be added to the state portals as early as mid-October. The new functionality will more clearly convey the coverage data, Reed said during a Consultation and Outreach Committee meeting Sept. 12.

Specific decisions and updates to coverage will be reflected in coverage maps or documented in the executive summary. “Any of our commitments that we’ve made during consultation will be in writing,” Reed said. “The dialog for additional coverage … will continue on through the life of the network. We are already identifying areas of concern for the states, and in some cases, AT&T has already been engaged in how they would fill those gaps over time.”

Several areas of the state plan portals are being updated, including acquisition overview, state executive summary, opt-in process, opt-out guide, radio access network (RAN), core network and security. Some states will receive updated data and clarifications to information.

FirstNet is not modifying the portal but updating the content based on the feedback received. “We have received a lot of questions and have gone through a process to structure those responses and to get together with the technical experts,” Reed said. “We are going through the legal review process now.”

Reed noted that opt-in states are making a purchase decision but are not committing to using the network. He also said the opt-out process is complex.

FirstNet Board Member Jeff Johnson said requiring interoperability in the opt-out process was by design. “Public safety asked for this from the first day so we didn’t have to live with a hodgepodge of systems,” he said. “We wanted to stitch up every hole that could create a fabric of different systems. This came straight from public safety.”

During a Governance and Personnel Committee meeting Sept. 12, FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson said new board appointments, usually made in August, will be delayed until later this month or October. NTIA requested submissions for five board positions in April and received 31 responses.

Swenson said the committee interviewed candidates and made a formal recommendation to NTIA. NTIA has made a formal recommendation to the secretary of commerce, and appointments should be announced in coming weeks.

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