New Hampshire could become the first US state to opt out of AT&T’s FirstNet build plans as the state explores an alternative option with Rivada Networks.
At a meeting earlier this month, the state’s Interoperability Executive Committee recommended New Hampshire opt out of FirstNet’s build plan in favour of taking up a contract with Rivada Networks. Governor Chris Sununu followed up this week by signing an executive order to establish a committee to further evaluate the financial and regulatory risks of taking up the alternative.
New Hampshire’s FirstNet Opt Out Review Committee will review what regulatory approvals would be necessary to reject FirstNet and provide an assessment of the financial risks the state would face if those approvals aren’t obtained. Additionally, the committee will conduct due diligence on the financial viability of Rivada Network’s plan and recommend any stipulations which should be included in the final contract with the company.
“As part of this review, we will seek clarification of certain proposed fees, as well as clarification of penalties that may be imposed by FirstNet if an opt-out were to fail,” Sununu said in a statement: “These fees and penalties appear to be arbitrary and primarily designed to deter states from opting out of FirstNet plans. That is why I am calling on key officials at the federal level to assist us as we examine the numbers released by FirstNet and to ensure that states are being afforded their right to make their decisions with correct information.”
The committee must deliver its report by 21 November, with the state required to inform FirstNet of its final decision by 28 December.
AT&T submitted construction proposals to all the states after it was awarded the government contract to construct FirstNet back in March. But New Hampshire was one of at least two states to go out to bid for an alternative FirstNet plan after receiving AT&T’s proposal. The states received bids from Rivada Networks, though the other state, Michigan, ultimately opted for AT&T’s build.
So far, a total of 27 states and territories have opted in to AT&T’s FirstNet build plans.
Rivada Networks was one of three contenders which faced off with AT&T for the FirstNet contract, but was disqualified when its proposal was deemed to be outside of the “competitive range”.
Since losing out, the company continued to tout itself as an alternative to AT&T’s plans. In filings submitted to the Federal Communications Commission in June, Rivada Networks argued opt out providers like itself could provide “competitive pressure on AT&T” which will promote faster evolution of technical advancements.
In addition to competition from Rivada Networks, AT&T also faces pressure from Verizon.
Verizon did not bid on the FirstNet contract, but recently announced plans to construct its own dedicated network core for public safety professionals.