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FirstNet issues state coverage, rate plans

FirstNet and AT&T, the developers of the nationwide wireless broadband network for first responders, have released the individual network plans for states and territories.

The plans were released via online restricted portal and include descriptions of proposed services, coverage and subscription pricing for each state and territory. With that information in hand, states can begin deliberations on whether to opt into FirstNet or develop their own complementary network. They have 45 days to review the plans and will also have the opportunity to exchange feedback with FirstNet before an official 90-day clock starts for each state or territory governor to make an “opt-in/opt-out” decision.

If a state's governor decides to opt into the plan, FirstNet and AT&T said that would "open the door" to immediately begin service delivery to the state's public safety community. They said the opt-in would also provide dedicated access to AT&T's LTE network and transfer financial, operational and technical risks of building, maintaining and upgrading the network to FirstNet for the next 25 years.

States can opt out of FirstNet and run their own systems on the spectrum carved out for the network, provided they are interoperable with the FirstNet core and approved by the Federal Communications Commission.

When FirstNet awarded AT&T the contract for the 25-year, $6.5 billion network, a group led by Rivada Networks, which had protested the contract but lost, vowed something of a house-to-house competitive battle in the states for networking contracts. The consortium -- which includes Harris Corp., Intel, Fujitsu, Ericsson and Nokia -- said it would work directly with states and territories developing their own interoperable Radio Access Network solution.

Eight states, said Brian Carney, Rivada's vice president for corporate communications, have issued requests for proposals for alternative network plans. Rivada, he said, is in the process of responding to all of them and already has a contract with New Hampshire.

"We look forward to working with any state that is seeking an alternative," he said. "We expect more when they see the costs of AT&T's network."

A new FirstNet.com site was also created that features information on available phones, tablets and in-vehicle devices;  coverage enhancements; rate plans; communications, mobile device management and cloud services; and the app store where "FirstNet-branded, third-party-managed, and agency-operated “endorsed” applications" will be available.

Firstnet.gov will continue to house information on the program, activities and the First Responder Network Authority.

This article was first posted to FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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