New Hampshire received the five bids, despite the fact that it does not have a license to operated on the Band 14 700 MHz spectrum specified in the RFP—those airwaves are licensed to FirstNet. Like all other states and territories, New Hampshire can access Band 14 spectrum only by negotiating a spectrum-lease agreement with FirstNet, which is the last step in the lengthy opt-out process that likely will take more than two years to complete.

And that opt-out process cannot start until the governor receives the state plan from FirstNet as part of its nationwide deployment. Under the FirstNet RFP, state plans would be distributed by May 1, 2017, if FirstNet awards its contract by Nov. 1 this year, as targeted in the RFP.

Governors will have 90 days to evaluate the FirstNet plan for the state before deciding whether to pursue the opt-out alternative. If a state or territory decides to opt out, it would have another 180 days to complete an RFP process to build out the RAN within its jurisdiction, according to the law passed by Congress in 2012 that established FirstNet.

This RFP timetable in the law is one that even FirstNet officials have acknowledged is very challenging, if the RFP process is not started until the governor’s decision is made. However, with the five bids, the state of New Hampshire theoretically has completed this difficult step, assuming that the vendors’ bids are still valid at that point.