AT&T, Inc., plans to release rates “fairly soon” for how much it would cost first responders to use the network that the company plans to build under its contract with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an AT&T executive said today. Doug Clark, AT&T’s assistant vice president-state outreach and consultation, stressed during a webinar this afternoon organized by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors that AT&T’s rates would be “extremely competitive” with the market and that AT&T was offering services at no extra charge that public safety agencies can’t get elsewhere: priority access and, late in the fourth quarter of this year, preemption, on AT&T’s entire network.
Speakers on the webinar stressed the importance of local officials providing feedback to FirstNet single points of contacts (SPOCs) during the 47-day state plan review period that began with the delivery of the plans this week (TR Daily, June 19).
“You really all should be paying close attention to what’s going on right now, because this really is the critical time and, honestly, the only time to provide feedback back to FirstNet on the state plan,” said Barry Fraser, general manager of the BayRICS Authority and co-chair of NATOA’s Public Safety/Homeland Security Committee.
In California, review teams have been established to pore through the state plan and provide input for a recommendation that a state board will make to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, he said.
Mr. Clark was asked about whether AT&T will make the necessary investments to ensure adequate rural coverage in a “reasonable period of time.”
He acknowledged that rural coverage is “a concern that’s on a lot of people’s minds” and added that “our objective is to identify where those critical areas are for first responders.” He said that states should highlight that issue during meetings that AT&T and FirstNet have in states about the state plans.
Bill Schrier, a senior FirstNet adviser, noted that each of the five deployment phases has a rural build-out portion. He also said that some states have indicated they will probably opt in early to have AT&T build their radio access networks (RANs). “We know there are states that are satisfied with their plan today,” Mr. Clark agreed, noting that states can opt in early if they choose.
State officials, meanwhile, said they are busy reviewing their state plans. “North Carolina conducted a kick-off meeting with our State Plan Evaluation team yesterday afternoon,” Red Grasso, deputy director of FirstNetNC in the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and the state’s acting SPOC, told TR Daily today. “This allowed us to all review the portal together to understand the layout and comment functions found within the State Plan Portal. The meeting went well and the team will now take the next couple of weeks to review the information on the portal while making comments. Personally, I have only just begun my review and of course, I started with the coverage map. The layers offered on the interactive coverage map gives us the ability to toggle different information, though we were hoping to also get the raw data so that our GIS folks could run some comparisons and reports for us. I am hoping to find all of the answers to the questions that we have asked over the past couple of years within the pages of our FirstNet State Plan. We are looking forward to our mid-July meeting with our evaluation team that FirstNet and AT&T are going to attend.” —Paul Kirby,