The Federal Communications Commission announced that states that want to opt out of the FirstNet radio access network for first responders must do so by Dec. 28.

On Sept. 15 the FCC released the standards with which it will determine whether state broadband networks are interoperable with the National Public Safety Broadband Network. The FCC plans to assess states’ requests to opt out of FirstNet and use their own networks instead, through a two-pronged review system. FirstNet is a national plan to provide first responders with broadband access during emergency situations. In order to meet the standards, state networks that choose not to use FirstNet must include Access Point Names (APNs) that support nationwide interoperability.

On Sept. 29, FirstNet told the FCC that 52 states and territories were notified of the 90-day opt-out decision period.

Opt-out notices must be sent by the governors of the states or territories to FirstNet and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that the occurrence of hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria have emphasized the need for a network for first responders.

“During the recent storms, we have witnessed heroic acts by many first responders,” Pai said in a statement. “They put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe. We owe it to them to give them the tools they need to do their jobs. Effective and reliable communications service is one of those tools. I’m proud that we’re doing what we can and must to help them communicate in times of trouble.”

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.