However, there has been no indication that the FirstNet core policy would be altered as the bid deadline neared for the California alternative-RAN procurement. Given this situation and Wiederecht’s public statements, industry observers interviewed recently by IWCE’s Urgent Communications were divided on their predictions, with some expecting Verizon to bid and others expressing doubt. Meanwhile, two suggested that Verizon might submit a bid but make the offer conditional, based on a change to the core policy.

In the end, Verizon decided not to submit a bid in the California procurement.

“FirstNet’s opt-out requirements do not present states with a viable opt-out option at all,” Brittingham said in his statement. “And they undermine Congress’s intent to ensure that states have a viable alternative other than using FirstNet’s chosen commercial partner.”

Although Verizon is not participating in the California RFP, the carrier has announced that it is committed to maintaining its market-leading position in the public-safety-broadband sector.

In August, Verizon unveiled plans to mirror AT&T’s FirstNet deployment by building its own dedicated public-safety core network next year. Verizon officials also have said that the carrier plans to provide public-safety users with prioritized and preemptive access on its network on the same timeline that AT&T has promised for FirstNet subscribers.

In addition to the FirstNet core policy, representatives of states considering the “opt-out” alternative have expressed concerns about costs facing “opt-out” states for accessing the FirstNet LTE core and 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet. No state officials interviewed by IWCE’s Urgent Communications have said that FirstNet has provided any indication how much “opt-out” states would pay to access the FirstNet core network.

But the loudest objections from state representatives have come from the potential termination fee—as much as $15 billion in California, according to state officials—that an “opt-out” state would pay if its alternative RAN vendor failed to meet FirstNet guidelines and the state would have to turn to FirstNet to provide a new solution for public-safety users within the state.

After the termination-fee amounts were revealed in some states, FirstNet defended the terms of the draft spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA) in a blog post on its web site.

“Building, operating, maintaining, and improving the RAN portion of the Nationwide Network is a substantial responsibility – a massive telecommunications infrastructure project that cannot fail our nation’s first responders,” according to the blog. “The SMLA is designed to make sure this critical public-safety mission is achieved and that the network is sustainable for 25 years.

“The SMLA includes comparable terms and requirements to those that FirstNet’s network contractor is contractually bound and accountable for in opt-in states.  In other words, we are asking no more of an opt-out state than what we are requiring of our NPSBN contractor to ensure the sustainability, interoperability, and security of the Network for public safety.”

Recently, FirstNet CEO Mike Poth has told state officials that the termination-fee estimates in the draft SMLA represent “worst-case” scenarios.

FirstNet reiterated this position in a statement today.

“FirstNet would work with the state and any interested contractors to development the most cost-efficient solution to minimize any disruption to public-safety communications and minimize the fiscal impact to the state,” according to a FirstNet spokesman.