FirstNet Will Deal Directly With Tribal Nations

FirstNet, the broadband first-responder network, has made it clear that its connection with tribal governments in Indian Country will be a direct one.

In a new tribal consultation policy, FirstNet said it will be honoring tribal sovereignty and encouraged those nations to talk directly with FirstNet, rather than having to go with the representatives designated by state governors, once a state governor has made their decision about participation.

Governors in all 50 states got their respective state plans from NirstNet in September, and have until Dec. 28 to opt in or out of the plan. So far 27 states have opted in. Those who opt for different network approach--Verizon, for example, is pitching an alternative, must make sure they are interoperable with First Net.

But Tribal Nations can make their own designations independent of states. FirstNet will engage with the tribes up until a governor's decision, but after that will deal directly with the tribes, whatever that decision, including to make sure their coverage needs and concerns are being met.

The tribes are being treated like federal entities, which can also make their own FirstNet decisions independent of state participation.

“This policy recognizes the importance of working directly with Indian Country for the deployment and operation of the Network and being responsive to the needs of public safety communications on tribal lands” said Kevin McGinnis, the FirstNet Board tribal liaison. “As they serve on the front lines of their communities, we look forward to providing them with reliable, broadband connections and tools that will help them save lives and protect their communities.”

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.