FirstNet-eligible organizations can now register with the federal government’s dedicated public safety network through prewritten statewide deals, rather than by negotiating individual agency contracts, AT&T — the company building the network — announced Thursday.
The state-level agreements, which AT&T has in place with all 50 states, will enable FirstNet-eligible organizations to secure state-level pricing and immediate access to the network, according to the company.
The agreements were initially signed by the Public Procurement Authority, an office in Oregon state government that creates contracts that can be shared with government entities nationwide. Members of NPPGov, a national procurement company that frequently partners with the Oregon authority, have access to PPA procurements — meaning that public safety agencies and FirstNet-eligible nonprofits across the country can lock in the state-level pricing. This, NPPGov CEO Crosby Grindle said, saves those organizations time and money from individually soliciting separate contracts.
Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T-FirstNet, said the new arrangement “takes contracting to the next level.”
“First responders face plenty of challenges,” Sambar said. “Getting access to FirstNet shouldn’t be one of them. By removing the need to execute an additional contract, the NPPGov process makes it even quicker and easier for first responders to get up and running on their network.”
Grindle told StateScoop that his organization has a long-standing relationship with AT&T, but that the new arrangement will open up new opportunities for NPPGov’s 35,000 members. Each state-level contract is priced differently, depending on AT&T’s offering within the state, Grindle said.
“We’ve recently improved and opened up the process with AT&T and FirstNet and our contract to facilitate the use of the contract by non-governmental non-profits,” Grindle said.
The pricing will be as good or better than what the organizations could get by negotiating on their own, he said.
Grindle added that organizations that are neither governmental or nonprofit can join NPPGov to access the state-level pricing as well, if they’re FirstNet-eligible. Normally, NPPGov doesn’t allow non-governmental, for-profit organizations to access to its contracting.
What constitutes an organization as “FirstNet-eligible” is reviewed by AT&T on a case-by-case basis , according to an AT&T spokesperson. Currently, it includes fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency management, and emergency call centers, as well as essential government services, education, transportation and utilities, with other users undergoing a “rigorous review” before being granted network service.