FCC clarifies FirstNet state 'opt out' procedures

By Jonathan Nally
Thursday, 29 June, 2017

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has “taken steps” to support the deployment of the FirstNet nationwide first responders communications network by reviewing state opt-out options.

In a statement, the FCC said that “consistent with duties entrusted to the FCC by Congress”, the steps “will help ensure that state-built portions of the network are interoperable with the core network so that public safety officials can communicate seamlessly with each other during emergencies”.

The FirstNet public safety broadband network will comprise a network core and a radio access network (RAN) that connect with the core.

The 2012 FirstNet statute requires the development of a national plan to deploy the RAN within each state but also gives each state the right to opt out and build its own RAN, provided that it will be interoperable with the core network.

States that choose to opt out must submit their plans to the FCC and obtain approval, demonstrating that such plans meets interoperability requirements.

The FCC said that is has now “established the standards and procedures it will use” to review state plans, including:

  • the timeline for states to provide notification of their opt-out decisions and file plans with the FCC;
  • information states should include in their plans to demonstrate compliance with the statutory criteria for interoperability with FirstNet’s network;
  • some of the technical criteria and standards that the FCC will use in evaluating state plans;
  • the FCC’s review process, including participation by interested parties, treatment of confidential information and the timing of FCC action;
  • the FCC’s process for documenting its decisions to approve or disapprove state plans.

Image courtesy FirstNet.

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