NH Establishes Committee Review FirstNet Opt-Out Decision

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R.) signed an executive order today establishing a committee to review the “regulatory and financial risks” to the state if it seeks to opt out of having AT&T, Inc., build its radio access network (RAN) for the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) system.

“New Hampshire’s Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (SIEC) has determined from a technical standpoint that an opt-out of FirstNet is far and away our best option, as evidenced by their unanimous 15-0 vote. The State must nevertheless conduct a thorough review of the financial and regulatory viability of Rivada’s opt-out plan,” the governor said in a statement. “As part of this review, we will seek clarification of certain proposed fees, as well as clarification of penalties that may be imposed by FirstNet if an opt-out were to fail. These fees and penalties appear to be arbitrary and primarily designed to deter states from opting out of FirstNet plans. That is why I am calling on key officials at the federal level to assist us as we examine the numbers released by FirstNet and to ensure that states are being afforded their right to make their decisions with correct information.”

The governor added, “New Hampshire is proudly on the forefront of national safety infrastructure. In the coming days I will be sending a letter to my fellow Governors which will encourage all states considering their options to pause and lean on us as New Hampshire seeks clarifications and answers that every state can benefit from.”

The New Hampshire SIEC voted recently to recommend that the state opt out of FirstNet and contract with Rivada Networks LLC for a contract for an opt-out plan (TR Daily, Oct. 10). Following the issuance of a request for proposals (RFP), the state last year awarded Rivada a contract to develop an alternative state plan (TR Daily, Sept. 7, 2016).

In addition to reviewing regulatory and financial issues, the five-member FirstNet Opt-Out Review Committee is also directed to review “Rivada’s financial capacity to achieve the successful provision and implementation of its opt-out plan.”  Earlier this year, a federal judge questioned Rivada’s financial viability in upholding FirstNet’s decision to eliminate Rivada from its procurement proceeding (TR Daily, March 17). AT&T was awarded a 25-year contract with FirstNet (TR Daily, March 30).

“We welcome his conclusion about the superiority of opt-out, and we’re confident that FirstNet’s punitive and extra-legal penalty payments will be resolved in due course,” Brian Carney, senior vice president–corporate communications for Rivada, said today.

“We are confident the FirstNet/AT&T plan provides New Hampshire with the most sustainable and financially viable network, as well as the fastest path for delivering the network to the state’s public safety community,” FirstNet said. “We look forward to continuing our consultation with the state and its public safety community throughout the decision-making process.”

Twenty-five states and two territories have opted in to the FirstNet network. Governors have until Dec. 28 to announce if they plan to seek to opt out. —Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily