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FirstNet is required by statute to provide individual implementation plans (“State Plans”) for each of the 56 states and territories of the United States. These State Plans will be provided via an online portal and will specify the planned coverage, services, applications, features, devices, and accessories for use in the state or territory on the wireless data network. These plans will be based on FirstNet’s request for proposal and the winning vendor’s bid for implementing the NPSBN nationwide. While a draft plan will be provided to the Commonwealth, only minor changes to that plan are expected before the Final State Plan is submitted to the Governor for approval.

The FirstNet legislation provides an option for each governor to “opt out” of the FirstNet State Plan, but it does not provide an option for a state to opt out of the NPSBN entirely. In other words, the network will be built in each state and territory. A governor, though, may decide to implement the radio access network (RAN) themselves, rather than having FirstNet and its vendor implement the network in their jurisdiction. States opting out of the FirstNet State Plan assume the responsibility and associated costs for deploying the network in their state, as well as for operating, maintaining, and upgrading the network in accordance with FirstNet’s network policies. In exchange, the state will have more control over the deployment of the network in the state and will obtain the rights for the use of the excess spectrum in their geographic area. Additionally, some grant funding may be available to “opt out” states from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to help subsidize the cost of rolling out the radio access network in that state.

There are a number of steps that an “opt out” state must complete in order to implement the NPSBN RAN in their jurisdiction, including obtaining approval from the Federal Communications Commission and negotiating a spectrum sub-lease agreement with FirstNet. The decision to “opt out” must be made within ninety days of the receipt of the Final State Plan. A procurement to implement the network in the state must be completed within 180 days of opting out.

Draft State Plans are expected to be delivered in early 2017 with the Governor’s decision expected later in 2017. The PSBO will provide links to the public content of these plans once available.

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