NTIA Does Not Release State Funding Levels, Pushing ‘Opt-in/opt-out’ Deadline Deeper Into December

Most governors will have at least until Dec. 21 to decide whether their states and territories will “opt-in” to FirstNet or pursue the “opt-out” option after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) yesterday failed to provide key funding information that would apply to an “opt-out” state.

NTIA did not release the funding level determination (FLD)—the amount of construction-grant money a state or territory could receive in an “opt-out” scenario—as of Thursday, an NTIA official verified late yesterday in an e-mail to IWCE’s Urgent Communications. As a result, the statutory 90-day period for governors to make their “opt-in/opt-out” decisions has not yet started.

Making the situation particularly interesting is the potential timing of the end of the governors’ decision period. If NTIA releases the funding levels today, affected governors would need to make their “opt-in” or “opt-out” choices by Thursday, Dec. 21—the second-to-last business day before the Christmas holiday. If NTIA does not release the funding levels today, it appears that these governors could delay their FirstNet decision until after the Christmas holiday, given the upcoming weekend and the December work schedule.

Governors in 21 states and two territories already have announced their “opt-in” decisions, which means their jurisdictions have accepted the deployment plan provided by FirstNet and AT&T—FirstNet’s nationwide contractor—to build and maintain the radio access network (RAN) within the state or territory for the next 25 years. FirstNet released actionable state plan that enabled such early “opt-in” decision on June 19.

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