The Planning Process
By law, FirstNet is required to consult with federal, state, tribal, and local public safety entities to ensure that the NPSBN is designed to meet the needs of public safety across the country. State, tribal and local consultation is a collaborative process, involving key stakeholders and leadership from each state and territory, and is incorporating enhancements and improvements as they develop.
FirstNet is working through the designated single officer or governmental body during state and local planning consultation to gather requirements from key stakeholders for developing its deployment plan. State and local planning consultation topics include:
- Construction of a core network and any RAN build-out
- Placement of towers
- Coverage areas of the network, whether at the regional, state, tribal, or local levels
- Adequacy of hardening, security, reliability, and resiliency requirements
- Assignment of priority to local users
- Assignment of priority and selection of entities seeking access to or use of the nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network and training needs of local users
FirstNet began its state and local planning outreach efforts in mid-May 2013 with six regional workshops. Ten individuals from each state and territory, including some tribal representatives, participated in these interactive meetings, where they communicated their requirements, priorities and concerns to FirstNet. This initial phase of consultation provided FirstNet with valuable insights. FirstNet learned how unique the coverage needs are in each state and territory and how different local and regional incident policies and procedures can be at the local level. The workshops reinforced the value of the individual state consultations in gaining a more in-depth understanding of the needs of each state and territory.
Tribes and Federal Users
FirstNet is conducting outreach to engage tribal leaders on the network and their public safety needs. In addition to encouraging the designated single officer or governmental body to include tribal nations in the FirstNet state consultation process, FirstNet is holding additional meetings with tribal representatives. FirstNet is also engaging with a variety of federal agencies to determine how to leverage their assets and expertise for the network.
Building on the regional workshops, FirstNet has initiated individual visits to each of the states and territories to continue the dialog about building a broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet is working through each designated state point of contact to arrange a visit, agree on the agenda and identify participants. Timing depends on the state's readiness, the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) activities, and how quickly FirstNet can fully staff its outreach team. The agenda for initial FirstNet visits focus on roles and responsibilities, users and coverage needs. Expectations for data collection and other state-specific issues are also discussed. These meetings are paving the way for ongoing collaboration that will result in FirstNet's development of 56 unique state deployment plans. For an update on the status of FirstNet's state and territorial consultation meetings, please see the Consultation Meetings page.
Data gathering, supported by SLIGP funding, is intended to ensure that the FirstNet state RAN buildout plans meet user needs. States will be asked to submit available data as soon as it is compiled instead of waiting to complete the entire data requrest. FirstNet will continually update planning and modeling efforts based on new input. Data collection will cover the following areas:
- Architecture of an evolved pack core and radio access network
- Required coverage areas of the network
- Hardening, security, reliability and resiliency requirements
- Assignment of priority users and selection of secondary users
- Availability of assets that may be utilized
State Decision on State Network Plans
Members of the FirstNet outreach and design teams will work closely with the designated single officer or governmental body to develop and deliver a network deployment plan that meets their needs. FirstNet will then provide the governor of each state or territory with a notice of the completion of the request for proposal process; the details of the proposed plan; and the funding level for the state or territory. Upon receipt of the plan, a governor will have 90 days to choose whether to participate in the plan provided by FirstNet or conduct its own deployment of a radio access network. If a governor decides to opt out, then he/she is required to notify FirstNet, NTIA, and the FCC. After providing the notification, the Governor has 180 days to develop and complete requests for proposals for the construction, maintenance and operation of the RAN within the state. The state is required to submit an alternative plan to the FCC that is interoperable with the NPSBN and complies with the minimum technical interoperability requirements under the Act.
Funding the Buildout
If the State's plan is approved by the FCC, the state may apply for a grant from NTIA to construct the RAN. To obtain federal funding for its RAN, the state must demonstrate it can:
- Provide the technical capability to operate and fund the RAN
- Maintain ongoing interoperability with the NPSBN
- Complete the project within specified comparable timelines
- Execute its plan cost effectively
- Deliver security, coverage and quality of service comparable to the NPSBN
There are additional funding implications if a state receives approval to build its own RAN:
- States pay any fees associated with using FirstNet core elements
- Grant program specifics are not developed yet
- NTIA will determine eligible costs of the grant program, whether a match will be required, and funding levels
Licensing FirstNet Spectrum
If the state plan is not approved, the construction, operation and maintenance of the state RAN will proceed in accordance with the FirstNet plan. If a state receives approval to build its own RAN, the state then must apply to NTIA to lease spectrum capacity from FirstNet.
Initial Consultation Package
FirstNet delivered an initial state and local consultation package to each state and territory in preparation for in-person consultations. The package includes a readiness checklist with instructions, requested discussion topics, and the initial consultation meeting agenda. FirstNet will conduct follow-up conference calls with each state and territory to answer questions and provide clarifications.