Excerpt from a statement by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai regarding the Commission’s review of state opt-out requests of the FirstNet program.

“In the Spectrum Act of 2012, Congress charged the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) with establishing a nationwide, interoperable public safety broadband network.  A nationwide network necessarily includes coverage of rural areas.  Although this Order does not adopt a specific rule that requires FirstNet to meet rural deployment benchmarks, I’m satisfied that we have made substantial progress in this regard.  The Order makes clear that FirstNet has a statutory duty to ensure substantial rural coverage.  It recognizes that FirstNet has incorporated rural coverage benchmarks into its procurement process.  And it specifically states that the FCC will monitor deployment in rural areas in order to ensure that FirstNet has met its legal obligations. These steps are critical to promoting public safety.”