FirstNet: State Deployment of Emergency Responder RAN


Illustration of a broadband cableAll 50 states, the District of Columbia and five of the U.S. territories have opted in to the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) radio access network (RAN).

FirstNet is an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) charged with the build out and operation of a nationwide broadband network for public safety and emergency response providers. Under the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, FirstNet is required to develop a national plan to deploy the RAN. This requires an individual state plan to be presented to each governor, however states have the right to decline FirstNet’s state plan.


Where Are States in the Adoption Process?

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five of the U.S. territories have opted in to their state plan, and no states have officially opted-out of what has been proposed by FirstNet. All 56 states and territories have been consulted and are in various stages of planning for emergency response network updates. Each state has a single point of contact (SPOC) that deals directly with FirstNet authorities in the consultation and development of the states’ RAN. 

FirstNet State Timeline

On Friday, October 6th, the Federal Communications Commission published a final rule on the procedures for commission review of state opt-out request from the FirstNet radio access network. The rule will become effective November 6th, 2017 and can be accessed here.

June 19, 2017:  June was the FirstNet target for states to receive their individualized state plan. On June 19 FirstNet released the first set of details around pricing, network design and geographic coverage for its state plans. FirstNet provides a service coverage map, and the types of supported devices, although more technical details such as network design and pricing remain accessible only to the states SPOC.

Friday, Aug. 4 | 45 Days to Review: States had a statutory deadline of 45 days to review their proposals and provide any improvements or comments to FirstNet. Aug. 4 was the deadline for states and territories to provide comments to their individual State Plans. FirstNet and AT&T will now review the comments and provide feedback by mid-September.

June 19-Aug. 4 2017: States resubmit plan with suggested changes.

September 29th: FirstNet delivered official notice of State Plans to governors.

September 29th – December 28th:  Ninety days after FirstNet resubmits individual state plans with any changes requested by the states, the governor will be required to accept the updated plan or opt-out.

December 28th: Deadline to make opt-in/opt-out decision. No response means opt-out.

After December 28th, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will issue public notices detailing the states that elected to opt out. For the states that decided to opt-out, the notice then outlines filing details for alternative state plans. Including a 240-day deadline to file an alternative plan with the Commission for the construction, maintenance, operation and improvements of the State radio access network. Any alternative plan must include several requirements including interoperability compliance and other certifications by the state governor or the governor’s designee.

State Legislation

Florida: FL S 2500, Enacted. Appropriates funds to provide for the FirstNet Grant. The funds shall be held in reserve. Any new contracts for services shall be competitively procured. Stipulates additional procurement requirements.

Hawaii: HI H 202; HI S 294; and HI S 360, Pending. Looks to establish a statewide interoperability executive board for public safety communications. Finances the board through surcharges on traffic violations, requires the statewide interoperability coordinator to coordinate with the state point of contact for all activities related to the nationwide public safety broadband network, also referred to as FirstNet.

Massachusetts:  MA H 1759, Pending. Would create a special commission to examine the state of the advanced telecommunications broadband industry in Massachusetts, including fiber-to-the-premises, cable, wireless, and landline technologies. The goal will be to recommend a rational and balanced approach to oversight of the interconnected telecommunications network of the future, and to ensure that the commonwealth's consumers, both residents and businesses, as well as Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) have access to reliable and competitive broadband network. The commission shall review: Overview of the E-Rate, Rural Health, and FirstNet Federal and other broadband programs in the commonwealth.

Montana: MT H 604, Enacted. Revises public safety communication laws and establishes a statewide public safety communications system administered by the Department of Justice. Establishes principles and guidelines for the system and administration by the department. Establishes a statewide public safety communications system advisory council. However, the rules adopted do not affect the state's ability to use FirstNet, including new services and applications available with FirstNet, or any obligations or responsibilities related to FirstNet in accordance with federal statute.

North Carolina:  NC S 257, Enacted. Creates the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, which is charged with evaluating the Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders (VIPER) and FirstNet technologies. This includes examing the current state of VIPER and FirstNet technology and identifying long‑term future equipment needs and upgrades. It would require the committee also to examine the services provided by VIPER and FirstNet, the interoperability of the two systems, whether there are duplications in the system functions, and any opportunities for efficiencies and cost‑sharing.

New Hampshire:  NH H 238, Enacted. Establishes a committee to study broadband access to the internet. Recognizes the importance of internet access to all citizens and the need to promote access in unserved and underserved areas. The committee shall explore opportunities to increase broadband availability in unserved and underserved areas; explore means to expand the adoption of wireless and wired broadband technologies into rural areas with low adoption rates; solicit information from sources, including but not limited to a representative of FirstNet.

Oregon:  OR S 872, Failed. Establishes Department of Information Technology. Transfers duties, functions, powers and responsibilities related to information resources, information technology and telecommunications from the Department of Administrative Services to new department. Provides an effective date. Facilitate decision making and planning for potential implementation of the FirstNet network.

Oregon already has a law that defines a FirstNet network and Interoperability plan (O.R.S. § 403.445). Oregon also has a State Interoperability Executive Council, under the state chief information officer to be the statewide interoperability governing body, serving as the primary steering group for the Oregon Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (O.R.S. § 403.450). The council is responsible for coordinating statewide interoperability activities among state, local and, as appropriate, tribal and federal agencies, and must advise the state chief information officer, the governor and the Legislative Assembly on implementation of the interoperability plan. (O.R.S. § 403.455)

The state chief information officer must consult with the council and facilitate decision making and planning for potential implementation of the FirstNet network; and make recommendations to the state agency responsible for administering federal funds from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration. (O.R.S. § 403.465)

Pennsylvania2017 P.A. H 1218, Introduced. Establishes the Statewide Public Safety Communications and Interoperability Advisor Committee, which will be composed of several members including the commissioner of Pennsylvania State Police or a designee of the PA-FirstNet Program.

Utah: UT S 198, Enacted. Requires the state to create, maintain and review annually a statewide, comprehensive multiyear strategic plan in consultation with state and local stakeholders and the regional advisory committees that coordinates the authorities’ activates and duties including FirstNet standards. The interoperability division of the authority will review and make recommendations regarding statewide interoperability coordination and FirstNet standards as well as technical, administrative, fiscal, technological, network and operational issues for the implementation of statewide interoperability, coordination and FirstNet.

Vermont: VT H 406, Pending. Seeks to create the Telecommunications Technology Council with the Public Safety Division. This division shall ensure the building, deployment, and operation of a statewide, interoperable public safety broadband network that meets the interoperability goals and specifications of the FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network. It shall assume the authority of the Public Safety Broadband Network Commission established by Executive Order No. 05-13 and the Vermont Communications Board established by Executive Order No. 02-12.

If you have comments or concerns regarding FirstNet, please contact Danielle Dean