AT&T Urges FCC to Adopt Strict FirstNet Opt-Out Criteria


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AT&T is lobbying the FCC to authorize stringent standards for states that choose to opt-out of FirstNet in favor of building their own wireless broadband public safety network. States have this option provided their own network is interoperable with that being built by AT&T and FirstNet.
FirstNet officials and supporters like the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials-International say opting out is expensive and difficult for states, Inside Towers reported. AT&T told representatives of the Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau it should be. “The Commission’s review of an alternative state plan should involve a meticulous examination of the details of the plan to ensure that it provides with sufficient specificity, precisely how it will succeed in achieving seamless interoperability with the National Public Safety Broadband Network,” says the carrier in a meeting summary.

Like any nationwide communications network, achieving and maintaining interoperability for FirstNet will be “incredibly challenging,” and complexities multiply if a state drops out, according to AT&T. Crises “routinely” cross state lines, and an opt-out can affect several states.
Southern Linc, meanwhile, argues the Commission should allow an opt-out state to deploy its own public safety core network, asserting that the law says FirstNet shall be based on architecture that “evolves” and “initially consists of” the defined elements of the public safety core network and radio access network.
AT&T strongly opposes these arguments. The carrier and FirstNet are developing plans for states to review and hope to have those ready around June 19, according to an AT&T executive last week, Inside Towers reported; the FCC plans to vote on opt-out criteria and procedures at its June 22 meeting.
June 6, 2017