The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the Act) created the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet. FirstNet is tasked with ensuring the establishment of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network. Under the Act, the governor of each state may choose to have FirstNet build, operate, maintain, and improve the network within the state (opt-in) or it may choose to build, operate, maintain, and improve its own radio access network (RAN) within the state (opt-out), so long as the network is interoperable with FirstNet’s nationwide network and meets the criteria prescribed in the Act. If the state chooses to opt-out, the Act requires the FCC to conduct a threshold review of the state’s alternative plan to ensure that it provides for interoperability with FirstNet. If the FCC approves the plan, the state must apply to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for authority to enter into a spectrum lease with FirstNet and optional funds to assist in RAN construction.
In September 2017, FirstNet delivered buildout plans to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two US territories (Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands). This triggered a 90-day period for each of these states and territories to decide whether to opt in or opt out. As of the December 28, 2017 deadline, none of these states or territories notified the Commission that it chose to opt out of the FirstNet network.
FirstNet delivered final buildout plans to the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa in December 2017. These territories have until March 12, 2018, the end of the statutory 90-day period, to notify the FCC if they choose to opt out. Those electing to opt out will then have an additional 240 days to submit their alternative plans to the Commission for review.
To provide guidance for states that choose to opt-out, the Commission has established procedures for states to file opt-out notifications and submit state alternative plans. The Commission has also announced the process and standards it will use to evaluate state alternative plans under the criteria specified by the Act. We set out links to the relevant Orders, rules, and Public Notices below.
Commission orders announcing opt-out procedures and standards for evaluating state alternative plans: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-17-75A1.pdf
Opt-out rules in Code of Federal Regulations (47 C.F.R. § 90.532): https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=6e6c2e6af44f523dbf445a1f4b788e1b&mc=true&node=se47.5.90_1532&rgn=div8
Public Notice announcing the December 28, 2017 deadline for opt-out election for most states and territories: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1002/DA-17-956A1.pdf
Public Notice announcing the December 28, 2017 deadline for opt-out election for Puerto Rico: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1101/DA-17-1077A1.pdf
Public Notice announcing the March 12, 2018 deadline for the opt-out election for American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands: https://www.fcc.gov/document/territories-opt-out-pn