First responder network FirstNet is not a mandatory initiative by any means, and the first state to exercise their right to officially exclude themselves from the program is New Hampshire. What is mandatory, however, is compatibility with FirstNet, ensuring that first responders have the ability to communicate across city and state lines in any circumstances. To that end, New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu announced that the state will be enlisting the services of Rivada Networks to modernize its network resources to better serve first responders and related staff. All that was said at the time of the announcement is that the state of New Hampshire, should its venture with Rivada Networks be successful, will maintain more control over emergency networking services than it otherwise would have.
Rivada Networks had actually tried to supplant AT&T and get the federal contract to develop FirstNet nationwide, but had ultimately failed due to its plans being too risky when compared with what essentially amounted to a goodwill gesture from an entity that already had the network to support a project like FirstNet. In New Hampshire, however, a board that got together to discuss the decision over the course of two years ended up deciding unanimously that Rivada's plan would not only work for them, but that it was the best option, given more state control and cheaper access fees.
For those not in the know, FirstNet is a dedicated network backend being made specifically for use by first responders nationwide. It's being constructed and administered by AT&T, and individual states have until December 28 to decide whether they want to opt-in or will find an alternate solution. Thus far, 35 states have decided to sign on with FirstNet. With New Hampshire out of the running, there are 14 states left to decide whether to opt in to the program. Since the original purpose of FirstNet is to facilitate concerns over the sort of incompatibility that cramped first responders' communication during the September 11, 2001 terror attack, states that choose to opt out are required to find an alternative that will fulfill the purpose of FirstNet and be compatible with the communications and networking of states that did decide to use FirstNet.