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