North Carolina today became the 30th state to opt in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), in addition to two territories. North Carolina, which had issued a request for proposals (RFP) for an alternative plan, is the latest state to opt in. “We must do all we can to make sure North Carolina is ready to respond to emergencies and keep the public safe,” said Gov. Roy Cooper (D.). “Communication is key in times of crisis and this technology can help strengthen public safety by keeping our first responders connected.”
“As a former firefighter, I am excited about the opportunity that the FirstNet project brings to North Carolina’s responders,” said Red Grasso, the FirstNet single point of contact (SPOC) for North Carolina and deputy director of FirstNetNC in the North Carolina Department of Information Technology. “FirstNet is putting public safety in the forefront of technology innovation and though it will not replace two-way radios, it will start to bring data connectivity to the same level of service.”
“Governor Cooper’s decision to make FirstNet services available in his state demonstrates his strong commitment to public safety,” said FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth. “We look forward to continuing to work with North Carolina’s first responders to help ensure they receive access to the sustainable, cutting-edge network they need to connect local, state, tribal and federal first responders across the Tarheel State.”
“Gov. Cooper and his staff have been extremely thorough and thoughtful in evaluating North Carolina’s participation in this nationwide public safety broadband network,” said Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T North Carolina. “We appreciate and understand their diligence, for it matches our commitment to delivering this first-of-its-kind communications solution. We are honored to bring the FirstNet network to North Carolina and connect its public safety community to the life-saving technologies they, and our residents, deserve.”
Governors have until Dec. 28 to decide whether to opt out and have someone other than AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, build their radio access networks (RANs).
In other FirstNet news, Rivada Networks LLC Chairman and CEO Declan Ganley wrote Mr. Poth yesterday about a recent story by New Hampshire’s “Union Leader” newspaper that said that “FirstNet has compiled and distributed about 24 pages of ‘opposition research’ on Rivada, raising questions about the company’s ability to” to deploy RANs in opt-out states.
“I expect that this statement is incorrect: that FirstNet did not commission or circulate opposition research, or information FirstNet may have circulated may have been mischaracterized,” Mr. Ganley said. “After all, if it were to be true, it would be inconsistent with your testimony on November 1 at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Communications & Technology of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. In that hearing, you again confirmed that ‘FirstNet will do everything possible to make sure that an opt-out is successful.’ I know that this has always been your position, and personally have never doubted it. Obviously, circulating opposition research about a company that has proposed an alternative plan to a State would be an action calculated to undermine the State’s consideration of alternatives. It would be the exact opposite of what you pledged at a Congressional hearing. Therefore, I find the story difficult to believe.
“On the assumption that the statement in the Union Leader story is mistaken, and no employee of FirstNet compiled or distributed any such document, then I hope you agree with me that it would appropriate for you to contact Mr. Solomon as soon as possible, clarify the facts, and ask for a correction to the story,” Mr. Ganley added. “In the event the statement is true or substantially true, and a FirstNet employee or group of employees circulated opposition research, then I would appreciate it if you would provide me with a copy of any circulated document ASAP.”
However, the Nov. 11 story has since been updated online with the reference to the “opposition research” deleted. “FirstNet sought a correction to the story on Monday morning, and the publication did so,” a FirstNet spokesman said today. —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org