Company Urges FCC to Allow State Opt-Out Requests Soon

March 10, 2017–Wireless Partners LLC, which designs, builds, and operates LTE voice and broadband networks, is urging the FCC in a proceeding concerning the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) “to adopt procedures that will (1) allow states to file opt-out requests with the Commission as soon as is practicable, and (2) give states the flexibility to amend their requests and otherwise adjust their interoperability showings as needed to respond to changes in technology and/or FirstNet compatibility requirements, or to address any issues the Commission may raise, and (3) enable states, once approved, to begin deployments immediately without regard to the timing of FirstNet deployment.”

In an ex parte filing yesterday in PS dockets 16-269, 12-94, and 06-229, Wireless Partners noted that “the process that FirstNet established to hire a network partner has been bogged down in litigation for many months, with FirstNet unable as yet to award that contract. This delay has significantly set back the FirstNet effort, more than five years after Congress mandated a nationwide public safety broadband network to address the urgent and longstanding problems in public safety communications, which were laid bare on 9/11 and confirmed in a variety of emergencies and national disasters since then. State authorities are understandably eager to provide state-of-the-art public safety communications to their residents, and given the connectivity challenges in many areas of the countries, many may conclude that a more customized, statewide network would serve their needs better than the nationwide FirstNet network. They are committed to fulfilling their interoperability obligations, and want to work cooperatively with the Commission on a smooth review process for opt-out requests.”

The company said it was “pleased that, in his recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Chairman [Ajit] Pai stated that each opt-out state ‘should have a full and fair opportunity’ to present its interoperability plans and expressed the view that they should be able to amend pending applications in consultation with the Commission.”

The filing added that “there is no reason for the Commission to hold opt-out states to a ‘one and done’ approach, or otherwise deny them the opportunity to amend their initial submissions if needed in order to gain Commission approval.” The FCC has been charged by Congress with evaluating alternative plans from states that want to opt out of having FirstNet’s partner build a radio access network (RAN) in their states. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily