The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) today delivered official notices to governors of states and territories, which started the 90-day clock for them to decide whether to opt in to the network and have AT&T, Inc., build their radio access networks (RANs), or attempt to contract to build and oversee RANs themselves. Governors have until Dec. 28 to make a decision. Twenty-four states or territories have opted in so far.
“If a state does not take any action on its updated State Plan by Dec. 28, the state will automatically opt in to the FirstNet network,” FirstNet noted in a news release today. “FirstNet will then issue a task order for AT&T to begin deploying the RAN portion of the network in the state.”
FirstNet posted final plans on an online portal last week (TR Daily, Sept. 19), but it could not deliver official notices of them to states and territories, which starts the 90-day clock for review, until getting RAN construction funding level determinations (FLDs) from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, as required by the law that created FirstNet. The funding would be used for RAN construction by opt-out states.
NTIA released the FLDs publicly late this afternoon.
“To establish each FLD, NTIA used an estimate of the number of terrestrial sites (towers) in each State and territory necessary to achieve baseline coverage objectives based on National Institute of Standards and Technology technical modeling,” the agency said. “The FLD is a range of the grant amount a State may receive through the State Alternative Plan Program (SAPP) for radio access network (RAN) construction. The document … lists the current grant amount available and the maximum grant amount for each State. Any increase in the current grant amount available, up to the maximum grant amount for each State, will depend on the total amount available for the SAPP after all States have opted in or opted out. NTIA will provide updates to States on any increased grant amounts that are available on a monthly basis and no later than five days prior to the decision date. Details regarding the grant program will be provided in the upcoming SAPP Notice of Funding Opportunity.”
The FLDs ranged from the $674,312 currently available for American Samoa, which has a maximum grant amount of $842,890, to the nearly $361.0 million currently available for Texas, which has a maximum grant amount of $451.2 million. Texas has already opted in. Rounding out the top 5 are California: ($331.9 million to $414.8 million, Illinois ($290.2 million to $362.7 million), Florida, ($239.2 million to $299.0 million), and New York ($171.3 million to $214.1 million).
An NTIA spokesman said that NTIA has worked to ensure that states and territories that opt out get the maximum RAN construction grant, as long as it can ensure there is sufficient funding in the Network Construction Fund to cover costs.
“These plans will unlock innovation and create next-generation tools to help first responders save lives and protect communities across the U.S.,” FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said in a statement today. “As the governors look to make their decisions, we will continue to work closely with the states to ensure the network meets the needs of their first responders.”
“Connectivity underlies everything first responders do,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president-FirstNet for AT&T, Inc. “That’s why they’ve spent years advocating for access to modern communications capabilities. We’re honored so many U.S. states and territories have already entrusted us to make these life-saving tools available to their first responders. We look forward to continuing to work with states and territories as they make decisions on how to best deliver the most important public safety innovation of their lifetime.”
FirstNet and AT&T are still in discussions with the territories of Guam, American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands, which did not receive initial plans in June or final plans last week.– Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org