New Hampshire officials have indicated that they want Rivada Networks to commit to utilizing the FirstNet core network being built by AT&T, but putting such a commitment in contract form at this time would be difficult, Carney said.

“The committee said they wanted us to commit to putting all public-safety traffic through the FirstNet core to avoid any potential conflict with AT&T on this question. Which is fine, but what a core-access agreement looks like is not something that we have an inkling of. So, what do we do?”

“And how do we sign a contract that commits us to providing all public-safety services through this FirstNet core when we have no idea what the terms of such an agreement might conceivably look like?”

In addition, each “opt-out” state is required to meet certain FirstNet public-safety-adoption thresholds—the same targets that AT&T would have to meet in an “opt-in” scenario, according to FirstNet—or risk paying financial penalties to FirstNet. But FirstNet and AT&T have not announced whether AT&T can offer a “FirstNet” service utilizing non-Band 14 spectrum and whether these public-safety subscriptions would count toward the overall FirstNet public-safety-adoption number that an “opt-out” state would have to meet.

“It makes it quite difficult for us to present a fully executable contract to any state until some of these things are sorted out,” Carney said. “We’re working with the state to figure out how to address some of these uncertainties in the context of a contract negotiation in which we have to show substantial progress to satisfy the governor, but it’s hard to see how we can create a fully executable vehicle in the face of uncertainties that are outside our control.”

Presumably after a contract with Rivada Networks is signed, New Hampshire’s next step in the “opt-out” process would be to submit its network plans to the FCC, which will determine whether the state’s proposed alterative RAN will meet the agency’s interoperability criteria for FirstNet.

If New Hampshire secures FCC approval, its alternative RAN proposal would be evaluated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). NTIA has released its evaluation criteria, which largely follows guidance that NTIA officials presented in August during the APCO 2017 show. The final stage of the “opt-out” process would be for New Hampshire to reach a spectrum-lease agreement with FirstNet.