FirstNet Opt-Ins Top Third of Country

According to FirstNet, 20 states and territories, or more than a third of those who could, have now opted in to the interoperable first-responder communications network.

The network is being managed by AT&T in a public-private partnership with AT&T getting access to the spectrum and FirstNet getting priority use of that spectrum and AT&T's network in times of emergency. AT&T secured a 25-year, multibillion-dollar contract to build and maintain the net.

States can opt out of the FirstNet state plan and come up with their own alternative with another partner—a point Verizon has made—but they must be interoperable with FirstNet.

The latest to sign on are Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee.

"The FirstNet network is the only wireless, broadband network specially designed through consultation and feedback from public safety to ensure it meets their current and future technology needs," FirstNet points out.

It also says it will update state plans this month, with refinements in response to input from stakeholders.

FirstNet state plans will have some competition.

It is not calling it SecondNet, but Verizon said two weeks ago it is planning to build and operate a core public safety communications network.

In comments on the procedures for states' ability to opt out of the FirstNet plan, Verizon told the FCC that it would "provide reliable and innovative public safety communications services to state and local governments irrespective of whether states choose to opt out of the FirstNet network."

(Photo viaFirst Responder Network Authority’s Flickr. Image uploaded on June 29, 2017 and used perCreative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.