Alabama Becomes 26th State or Territory to Opt In to FirstNet

Alabama became the 26th state or territory today to opt in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). “Keeping Alabama’s residents, visitors and first responders safe is of the highest concern,” said Gov. Kay Ivey (R.). “From volunteer emergency responders in our rural communities to those on the front lines in more populated areas, our public safety community deserves access to the tools they need most. This collaboration with FirstNet and AT&T will allow us to provide our first responders increased capabilities to communicate as effectively and efficiently as possible, while also ensuring that our residents and businesses have the best possible services provided to them in times of emergency.”

Alabama is one of a number of states that sought proposals for an alternative to the FirstNet plan through a request for proposals (RFP). “Reliable, effective communications systems and networks are most important when lives are on the line,” said Hal Taylor, secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). “I am very pleased Alabama is opting in to be part of FirstNet. This network, and the new tools it will provide, will help our first responders do their jobs more safely and effectively, and it will help save lives all across the state.”

“Governor Ivey’s decision to join FirstNet comes after the state considered a number of options to bring public safety the best communications solution,” said FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth. “FirstNet and AT&T are extremely pleased to have delivered the network plan that best meets Alabama’s unique needs. We look forward to connecting first responders across the state’s diverse landscape, providing them access to the only network purpose-built for public safety’s life-saving mission.”

“We appreciate the seriousness and diligence Governor Ivey and her team brought to the discussion of Alabama’s participation in this nationwide public safety broadband network. It matches our own commitment to delivering this first-of-its-kind communications solution,” said Wayne Hutchens, assistant vice president-legislative and external affairs in Alabama for AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner. “AT&T is honored to bring the FirstNet network to Alabama and connect its public safety community to the life-saving technologies they, and our citizens, deserve.”

In other FirstNet news, the New Hampshire Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (SEIC) voted last week to recommend that the state opt out of FirstNet and contract to build a radio access network (RAN) itself. Following the issuance of an RFP, the state last year awarded Rivada Networks LLC a contract to develop an alternative state plan (TR Daily, Sept. 7, 2016).

“I would like to thank the SEIC for their hard work in this important process. I will carefully review their recommendation and reach a decision in the near future,” said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R.).

Meanwhile, AT&T is defending the hiring of Ryan Burchnell as a lead market development manager for AT&T’s FirstNet program (TR Daily, July 20). Until earlier this year, Mr. Burchnell was executive director of ALEA and Alabama’s FirstNet state point of contact (SPOC). A story last week in the “Alabama Political Reporter” suggested that Mr. Burchnell’s hiring could be a violation of the state’s two-year ethics code’s “revolving door” ban.

Mr. Burchnell referred a request for comment from TR Daily to AT&T, as did FirstNet. AT&T has hired multiple former SPOCs or other state officials to work on FirstNet issues.

“We’re looking to fill our team with leaders who are passionate about and experienced in public safety. We undergo a careful review of non-compete issues before bringing anyone to the team. Ryan’s job responsibilities do not include any activities related to Alabama state or local officials,” AT&T said. “He supports FirstNet activities in other states and local jurisdictions.” —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily