Public Safety
Wireless Broadband

State & Local Involvement

FirstNet in New York

Background:  On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed into law H.R.3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (the Act), which includes provisions to fund and govern a Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.

FirstNet Encourages States to Participate in the Nationwide Design

The design, build out, and management of the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) system is the responsibility of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an entity organized under the US Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA). FirstNet is managed by a board of directors from the ranks of federal, state, and local government along with industry representation. Outlined in the standards is a national public safety broadband system based upon the technology that commercial carriers are aligned with: Long Term Evolution (LTE). The alignment with commercial standards should allow common development of equipment and applications, lowering the traditionally high cost of public safety communications equipment.

The focus of this system is national. States will be required to adopt the standards set by FirstNet. The Act gives FirstNet control of the Band 14 700 MHz spectrum the NPSBN will be built upon. The only opt‐out available for states is to generate their own statewide plan that meets all of the national plan requirements. If they choose to opt-out, states would then need to construct and manage their own system, maintain connectivity with the national system core, and ensure that all updates and system improvements are in line with the national standard.

NPSBN Funding in New York State

State and Local Implementation Grant Fund

The Act established a grant program to assist State, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions with identifying, planning, and implementing the most efficient and effective means to use and integrate the infrastructure, equipment, and other architecture associated with the NPSBN in order to satisfy the wireless and data services needs of their jurisdiction. NTIA, in consultation with FirstNet, established grant program requirements including defining eligible costs, determining scope of eligible activities, and prioritizing grants for activities that ensure coverage in rural as well as urban areas. More than $116 million in grants has been committed by the NTIA under the State and Local Implementation Grant Program to assist states and territories in planning for the FirstNet network. New York has been awarded $4.9 million under this program with a requirement that the State match 20% of grant funds.  These funds will be used for outreach, consultation and planning activities needed to assure that the NPSBN plan for New York is based upon NYS stakeholder input and addresses the needs of our first responders.

Network Construction Fund

The Act also establishes the Public Safety Trust Fund to direct funding from voluntary incentive spectrum auctions. Up to $7 billion has been earmarked for this project, however this is predicted to be only a fraction of the total cost associated with this program. Some infrastructure cost may be offset by the provision allowing FirstNet to contract with commercial carriers for some of these services. Additional funding will be derived from user fees and from the sale of excess spectrum for commercial purposes.  It is important to note that priority and preemption by public safety has been central to discussions of any commercial use of Band 14 spectrum. In any case, so long as the State chooses to Opt In to the FirstNet plan there will be no cost to the State for the implementation of the network.

FirstNet will present New York State with a build-out plan and the Governor will have 90 days to choose whether to Opt In or Opt Out of the plan. If the State chooses to Opt Out, it will be required to present within 180 days an alternate RFP to build out the NPSBN in NYS that meets FirstNet requirements . 

New York State’s NPSBN Responsibilities

Each state has the following list of responsibilities:

  • Assignment of a single point of contact (SPOC).  The SPOC has been designated by the Governor as the Commissioner of DHSES, with the day to day activity conducted by the Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications.
  • Administer SLIGP grant funding. DHSES-OIEC has been assigned this responsibility. Planning funds will be used to coordinate resources within the State that can be used for outreach and education, governance expenses, training, policy and SOP development.
  • Designate governance for the oversight and ongoing policy of the system within the state. In New York, the State Interoperable and Emergency Communications Board (SIEC Board) and its working group, the Communications and Interoperability Working Group (CIWG), will fill this role.
  • Participate with FirstNet in the implementation planning process; provide information as required in the design, procurement, and build out. In support of this task, create a multi-discipline, multi-jurisdictional group to represent the needs of New York as a whole.

In order to support the NPSBN project goals, NYS DHSES/OIEC has undertaken the following initiatives:

  • Participated in FirstNet regional workshops and SPOC webinars, provided administrative oversight, and remained abreast of developments on the national level of the NPSBN project,
  • Applied for grant funding to support New York’s efforts to collect NYS stakeholder input on NPSBN needs and expected use, and to represent NYS’s interests at the national level,  
  • Created a FirstNet New York website to provide an accessible information portal for FirstNet New York stakeholders and interested citizens,
  • Distributed a survey to the FirstNet New York public safety user community and stakeholders to gather information about current wireless broadband use,
  • Created a Public Safety Broadband Working Group (PSBWG) whose purpose is to provide a public safety stakeholder perspective on identified issues related to the NPSBN and specific to New York State, 
  • Hosted a NY-FirstNet Consultation meeting,
  • Gathered and submitted the first Data Collection package for inclusion in FirstNet’s RFP process,
  • Have plans to provide educational outreach presentations on FirstNet in New York.

NYS Program Update

In August 2017, the New York State SPOC team held a series of regional meetings across the State for the purpose of providing general information on the NPSBN program. The target audience of these meetings were county-level public safety personnel. In addition to the SPOC team, representatives from FirstNet and their selected partner, AT&T, were present. Attendees learned about the NPSBN, the Governor's upcoming Opt-In/Opt-Out decision, DHSES's related activities, the FirstNet offered State Plan (i.e., the Opt-In option), and how NYS is evaluating that option. Attendees also had an opportunity to ask questions of the NYS SPOC team and of FirstNet/AT&T. The NYS SPOC team presentation can be viewed at the link below.

The following slides have been provided by AT&T for posting. The contents of the slides were produced and provided by FirstNet/AT&T:

State Consultation

The law that established FirstNet requires it to consult with Federal, State, tribal, and local public safety entities to ensure that the FirstNet network 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 incorporates enhancements and improvements as they develop.  In preparation for the RFP cycle, FirstNet worked 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 included:

  • Construction of a core network and any RAN build-out
  • 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.
  • 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 highlighted 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 initial workshops reinforced the value of the individual state consultations in gaining a more in-depth understanding of the needs of each state and territory.

Since that time, FirstNet has continued to consult with the states, working primarily through the State Point of Contact (SPOC).  Nearly all states have actively participated in the process.

Tribes and Federal Users

FirstNet is creating an education and outreach program to engage tribal leaders on the network and their public safety needs, and holding additional meetings with tribal representatives to better understand their needs. Likewise, FirstNet will engage with a variety of federal agencies to determine how they can leverage their assets and expertise for the network.

State Visits

FirstNet has completed two rounds of individual visits to most of the states and territories to continue the dialog about building a broadband network dedicated to public safety. Meeting agendas included  roles and responsibilities, users, coverage needs, data collection and other state-specific issues. These meetings provided invaluable input into the RFP process and should help FirstNet's development of 56 unique state and territory deployment plans, and of particular interest, New York State’s State Plan.  FirstNet, along with its future partner, will continue to engage the states as the program transitions from procurement to implementation.

Data Collection

New York submitted its first requested data collection package in September, 2015, providing an updated package in September 2016. These data packages included New York’s coverage objectives, public safety personnel count and distribution, current public safety mobile data use and barriers to use. This data was made available to the NPSBN bidders and it is expected that the eventual State Plan will be responsive to that input.

User Survey

Building the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) is a massive undertaking and FirstNet is soliciting input on all aspects of the design. This includes input from stakeholders in New York and all other states. Important questions regarding expected use of the NPSBN by the public safety community are needing answers so that the network’s business model can be self-sustaining while serving its intended users. To help answer these questions, each state conducted a Mobile Data Survey.  New York’s survey was conducted during December 2014 through March of 2015. Responses to this survey provided insight into present use of wireless data services in New York and will be used to extrapolate future use as well as to develop a compelling business model that will attract public safety users. Keeping in mind that the choice to use the NPSBN instead of commercial broadband services will be voluntary; the business model must be compelling and public safety’s input is needed to accomplish this.

If you are part of the public safety community and are asked to participate in future surveys, please provide complete and validated information to the extent practical, knowing that the NPSBN in New York will be constructed based upon current and future user needs. If you have not been asked to take the survey but are part of the public safety community and believe you can provide useful input on wireless broadband use, please utilize the Contact link and request that you be included in future surveys.

Use of Existing Assets

In order to meet the coverage goals, many radio sites will be needed in the State.  This will require towers, shelters and the backhaul to connect them. At this time, it is unknown how much the NPSBN build-out will rely upon non-commercial assets for its implementation. Use of existing tower sites, backhaul and government owned land may help defer cost and reduce deployment time. FirstNet indicated during the Initial NY Consultation that they are stepping back from reliance on municipal government contracts for sites and previously discussed plans to conduct asset surveys have been put on hold.

The decision to not rely on existing assets at this time was made for practical reasons.  For a more detailed explanation behind FirstNet’s initial decision, follow the link.  Once the details of an award are known, possible future use of existing assets will become clearer.


Opt-in/out Decision

State Decision on FirstNet's RAN Plans

Once a bidder has been selected during the Acquisition Phase, members of the FirstNet outreach and design teams, along with the selected bidder, will work closely with New York’s Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to the refine the Draft State Plan for New York.  The Plan will include the Radio Access Network (RAN) and an implementation schedule for New York’s piece of the NPSBN.   When the Plan is complete, FirstNet will provide the Governor with a notice of completion along with the Final State Plan for New York. Upon receipt of the plan, the Governor will have 90 days to choose whether to accept the plan provided by FirstNet (Opt In) or to carry out the State’s own deployment of a broadband radio access network (Opt Out).

If the Governor decides to opt out, then he is required to notify FirstNet, NTIA, and the FCC. After providing the notification, the State has 180 days to develop and complete requests for proposals for the construction, maintenance and operation of the RAN within New York State. In this case, the State would be 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.

State Decision Process

Funding the Build-out

If the Governor opts-in to the FirstNet plan for New York, then there will be no cost to the State for the implementation of the network. If the Governor opts-out then New York must submit an alternate and compliant build-out plan to FirstNet, the NTIA and the FCC within 180 days. If the State’s plan is approved by the FCC, the State may apply for a grant from NTIA to help 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 fees associated with using FirstNet core elements
  • NTIA will determine eligible costs of the grant program, whether a match will be required, and funding levels; grant program specifics are not developed yet
  • The State must apply to, and obtain approval from, NTIA to lease spectrum capacity from FirstNet

If a state’s opt-out plan is not approved, or if an Opt-out state is unable to successfully implement their own plan, the construction, operation and maintenance of the state RAN will proceed in accordance with the FirstNet plan.

Get Involved

There are a number of ways you can become involved in FirstNet’s plans and deployment of the NPSBN:



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