The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was created by Congress in 2012, following recommendations from the 9/11 commission. FirstNet was given the mission of building, deploying and operating the first high-speed, nationwide wireless broadband network with spectrum dedicated to public safety. In Vermont, the Public Safety Broadband Network Commission (PSBC) was formed by Governor’s Executive Order in 2013. The PSBC functions within Radio Technology Services. The Vermont liaison group includes a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) designee and an outreach team. On March 30, 2017, AT&T was announced as the winning bidder of the contract to build the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). FirstNet will work with AT&T as the project moves from the planning phase to the implementation phase. With a formal contract awarded, a timetable is triggered that directs the completion of final state coverage plans that are to be delivered to each state's governor by this fall. The PSBC and RTS based outreach team will continue to play an important advisory and communication role to Vermont’s first responders.
Access to draft state plans were opened to states in June. Each state is reviewing their proposal and will work with FirstNet and AT&T to refine the plans. Following the draft state plan review process, the governors of each state will be sent a final implementation plan for their state. Once a State receives the state implementation plan, the Governor will have 90 days to either accept the FirstNet proposal (opt-in), allowing FirstNet and AT&T to build the LTE Radio Access Network (RAN) in that state, or elect to pursue an opt-out path. Opt-out means a state or territory chooses to build the RAN instead of letting FirstNet and its partner do it. Regardless of a Governor's decision, no state will be allowed to forego having a FirstNet system operating within its borders. The national network is expected to be substantially in operation nationwide by 2022. FirstNet has produced a tutorial on the opt-in/opt-out process that you may view online.
Major Steps for Vermont include:
- The formation of the Public Safety Broadband Network Commission
- DPS receipt of a State and Local Implementation Grant Program award for FirstNet support
- Execution of a national FirstNet survey to Vermont first responders—securing one of the highest state participation rates in the country of 70%
- The design and implementation of state outreach efforts to first responders that encompasses all law enforcement, fire service and Emergency Medical Service personnel