This is the 13th in a series of white papers designed to spark conversation about the issues related to broadband for the public safety community. Check back on our blog for new posts each week, and feel free to add your comments below. Download a printable version of Broadband Conversations #13.
Broadband Conversations #13: Don’t Opt In. Don’t Opt Out...Yet
During the past several months, FirstNet, states, and territories have engaged in an increased level of outreach and interaction regarding the PSBN. Nevertheless, the sentiment being expressed by most states and territories reveals an ongoing frustration with the lack of meaningful information coming from FirstNet. This lack of information is having differing impacts on states and territories.
To fill the void, some states and territories have begun an outreach effort of their own. A few states have even begun their own detailed planning activities related to user needs and requirements definition. Some states are simply stuck and feel they are unable to stand in front of their constituents with any credibility since they are without information from FirstNet.
One of the most curious reactions by states and territories to the FirstNet information void is the assertion of positions about opting into and opting out of a yet-to-be-disclosed FirstNet radio access network (“RAN”). How states and territories can make decisions or even form strong opinions about opting in and opting out in the face of the FirstNet information void and, more critically, in the absence of any information on FirstNet-proposed RANs is a bit of a mystery.
It seems that the information void is causing so much uncertainty that many states and territories appear to be seeking to fill the void by taking positions on the very decisions that the absence of information makes impossible to decide.
How can taking any position on opting in or out be possible at this time?
How could a state or territory in the absence of meaningful information from FirstNet, or potential network partners, know what they are opting into or opting out of with regard to the PSBN if they don’t know what FirstNet is going to offer?
States and territories should not feel compelled to make any decision or even to form an opinion about opting in or opting out at this time. The only pressure a state or territory should logically perceive right now and take action on is to undertake the expeditious development of their own detailed requirements and planning independent of FirstNet to prepare for the imminent consultation. Future posts will examine this in much more detail.