Vermont became the eighth state or territory to opt in to AT&T’s FirstNet build plans after fielding outside proposals during a competitive bid process, and the 34th overall to pick the emergency services network.
In a statement, Vermont governor Phil Scott said the state had a “choice of building its own network or using the federal solution.”
“After thoroughly considering the technological, financial and operational aspects of both options, I believe the federal plan will more quickly and sustainably provide our public safety community with the network it needs to continue its valuable service to Vermont,” Scott explained.
The decision comes a little more than a week after the state’s Public Safety Broadband Commission recommended opting in, based on the findings of a pair of independent consultants. Immediacy of service, cost, and coverage were among the key reasons cited for endorsing FirstNet.
Vermont joined Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania as states which picked FirstNet after issuing a competitive request for proposals. A total of 18 states have issued formal requests for outside plans.
Ohio followed Vermont to become the 35th state or territory to opt-in to AT&T’s FirstNet build this week, but was not among those which sought alternative bids.
In October, some state representatives and former presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Martin O’Malley blasted a lack of transparency and clarity in the FirstNet process. Bush and O’Malley serve on the board of FirstNet competitor Rivada Networks.
Chris Moore, EVP of Rivada Networks, explained some states felt pressured to opt-in after being told they would face billions of dollars in penalties and spectrum lease fees if they opted out: “Opt-out is not supposed to be easy, but it’s not supposed to be impossible,” Moore said at the time.
For its part, FirstNet said it had worked closely with states to answer as many of their questions as possible and noted the whole process – including spectrum lease fees for opt-out states – is designed to ensure the sustainability of the network as a whole.