Now That Your State Has Opted-In. As of today, 27 states and territories have opted in to FirstNet and it appears as though more are preparing to make the move. Once your state opts in, what do your local, regional, and state agencies do? There are four options:
• Keep using the network operator that is providing you with broadband service. If it is not AT&T, that is fine according to the law.
• Move over to AT&T now and start receiving the full advantages of the FirstNet ecosystem as it is rolled out over the next few years.
• Adopt a wait-and-see attitude and watch how the network evolves.
• Don’t use any broadband data and continue to rely on voice services-only as you always have.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to decide at an agency or multi-agency level, all these options need to be considered as well as pricing. However, if your city or county’s elected or appointed officials will be making the decision based on other factors, such as an existing overall contract with a broadband vendor, and/or what appear to be price differences only, the best you can do is prepare a case for the solution you think is best for your agency and work to gain support among those who will be making the decision. Hopefully, you will be able to make the decision based on the factors that most impact your agency and, of course, the price you will have to pay for the service each month. Continue reading
FORT WORTH, Texas – Two Rivada Networks LLC board members, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R.) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D.), blasted the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T, Inc., today, suggesting that they have engaged in “third-world thuggery” and a dictatorship in their efforts to convince states to opt in and allow AT&T to build their radio access networks (RANs) as part of a nationwide public safety broadband network.
During a question-and-answer session this morning at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here, Messrs. Bush and O’Malley echoed complaints that Rivada executives often level against FirstNet and AT&T, FirstNet’s network partner – including that there has been a lack of transparency and accountability, resulting in many crucial details being kept secret, including exact coverage and fees and penalties that states could face if they seek to opt out and then change their minds.
Rivada lost out to AT&T for the 25-year FirstNet contract, and it is trying to convince states to opt out of the network and allow the company to build their RANs. Under the company’s business model, Rivada, using a dynamic spectrum arbitrage system, would monetize spectrum for commercial use when it is not being used by first responders.
Messrs. Bush and O’Malley suggested that states that opt in would not have any control of the network, and they said that all governors should at least issue request for proposals (RFPs) to explore their options, including partnering with Rivada.
The Rivada board members complained that states are not permitted to discuss the contents of their state plans or draft spectrum management lease agreements (SMLAs), which include the termination penalties and other fees. However, some states have. Continue reading
Stories in October 25’s TR Daily said that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R.) has written to governors asking them to hold off opting in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system and to help press for information from federal officials on penalties and fees that states and territories could be liable for if they opt in to the network. It should have said that states and territories could be liable for the penalties and fees if they opt out.
About 61% of the cell sites were down in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 64% of the population was reported covered by wireless carriers due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 49.6% of cell sites remained out, including 88.9% of the sites in St. John. About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers.
Working groups of the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council today offered early status reports on their initial research toward developing recommendations and reports due to be presented in 2018 and 2019. Speaking at CSRIC’s meeting at the FCC’s Washington headquarters this afternoon, Farrokh Khatibi, director-engineering at Qualcomm Technology, Inc., chair of Working Group 2, which is focused on Comprehensive Re-imagining of Emergency Alerting, said the group’s objective is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of emergency alerting and emerging technologies that may result in new alerting capabilities. The group plans to “evaluate existing techniques and propose potential improvements.” It plans to deliver a report on reimagining alerting in June 2018 and another on authentication and validation in December 2018.
Mr. Khatibi said the working group is currently conducting a “landscaping” effort to better understand the various technologies and getting presentations from various groups. The next steps for the group involve additional presentations and then developing a work plan to accomplish the group’s goals.
Budge Currier, branch manager of the California 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Branch of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, asked if the working group would be addressing the needs of the hard of hearing, noting that the Northern California wildfires had proven that alerting to the hard of hearing was an issue that needs more attention. Continue reading
About 66% of the cell sites were down in Puerto Rico today because of Hurricane Maria, the FCC reported, although about 64% of the population was reported covered by wireless carriers due to roaming agreements. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 52.1% of cell sites remained out, including 88.9% of the sites in St. John. About 93% of the population was covered by wireless carriers. As for cable and wireline systems, seven major switches were reported being toll isolated in Puerto Rico.
FORTH WORTH, Texas — State and local public safety officials complained today about the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet) plans for having its network partner, AT&T, Inc., build radio access networks (RANs) in states, especially termination, spectrum lease, and other fees in draft spectrum management lease agreements (SMLAs).
During a session this afternoon at the Competitive Carriers Association’s Annual Convention here, Michael Saltzman, project manager in Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security, complained that under the draft SMLA delivered to his state, it would have to pay $530 million over 25 years to lease the FirstNet spectrum and could face a $2.9 billion termination fee if it opted out and then sought to end the agreement early.
“Those numbers were scary. But what was scarier than the numbers were no one knew where they came from,” he said. He said that he won’t suggest the fees and penalties in the SMLAs are a “scare tactic” to prod states to opt in, “but I think it went the other way. I think it has upset people to the point where they want answers, and so, therefore, they’re not as apt to move forward aggressively until the answers are given.”
Twenty-five states and two territories have opted in so far, and governors face a Dec. 28 deadline to make an opt-out decision.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R.) wrote governors this week asking them to hold off opting in to the FirstNet system to help press for information from federal officials on penalties and fees that states and territories could be liable for if they opt in (see separate story). Continue reading
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration provided information today on how governors should provide notification if they decide to seek to opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system. “All opt-out notices must be filed via the dedicated email address: email@example.com, or via certified mail to the Office of Public Safety Communications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, United States Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave[.,] NW., Washington, DC 20230, ATTN: Marsha MacBride,” NTIA said a notice published in the “Federal Register.”
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R.) has written to governors asking them to hold off opting in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) system and to help press for information from federal officials on penalties and fees that states and territories could be liable for if they opt in. Last week, Mr. Sununu signed an executive order establishing a committee to review the “regulatory and financial risks” to the state if it seeks to opt out of having AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, build its radio access network (RAN) (TR Daily, Oct. 16).
“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.” Continue reading
President Trump signed an executive order today directing the secretary of Transportation to launch an initiative to pilot and validate advanced drone operations in partnership with certain state and local governments. In choosing proposals to pilot, the secretary should consider, among other things, the commitment of state and local governments and drone operators to use “radio spectrum efficiently and competitively,” according to the executive order.