New Hampshire has been at the forefront of the “opt-out” discussion, as the state issued its request for proposal (RFP) seeking a vendor to potentially build an alternative (RAN) under an “opt-out” scenario even before FirstNet released its RFP for a nationwide contractor that was won by AT&T. New Hampshire completed the procurement last year and selected Rivada Networks as its contractor, if the state achieves “opt-out” status.

Early this month, New Hampshire’s state interoperability executive committee [SIEC] unanimously voted—with 15 affirmative votes and 2 abstentions—to recommend that Sununu decide to pursue the “opt-out” alternative. On Oct. 16, Sununu issued an executive order acknowledging the SIEC recommendation on technical grounds and creating a new Opt-Out Review Committee to assess the regulatory and financial risks the state would face under an “opt-out” scenario.

Sununu and officials in multiple states have expressed discontent with fees that “opt-out” states would face, including the payments that would be made to access the 700 MHz spectrum licensed to FirstNet and the fee that “opt-out” states would pay, if their “opt-out” arrangement failed and FirstNet would have to assume responsibility for the RAN in the state. This termination fee in California could be as much as $15 billion, while the termination fee for New Hampshire has been reported to be $608 million.

“In the coming weeks, our Opt-Out Review Committee will conduct a thorough legal and financial due-diligence review, which will include seeking clarification from federal officials on fees and penalties that may be imposed by FirstNet in the event that an opt-out is unsuccessful,” Sununu stated in his letter to governors. “Our initial review of these fees and penalties has raised some serious questions, and I believe each of us must have the answers to these questions before we make our final decision. Our first responders deserve nothing less.”