Urgent Matters

Don’t be too quick to judge New Hampshire harshly for signing deal with Rivada

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Last week, New Hampshire signed an agreement with Rivada Networks to build the RAN in its state, if it decides to opt out of FirstNet. Did the state jump the gun, or was it merely keeping its options open?

By conducting the RFP during the past year, New Hampshire received a high level of attention from five bidders, because the state had the first RFP on the street. If New Hampshire waited until next spring, and some of the most attractive wireless markets were available—think about Washington, D.C., or the states of New York, New Jersey, Texas, Florida and California—it’s hard to imagine any bidder prioritizing New Hampshire, especially when the tight FirstNet timelines mean that resources potentially would be stretched very thin for all involved.

In an ideal world, FirstNet will name its contractor in November, they will deliver state plans in May that are so impressive that governors will accept them gladly, and the FirstNet offerings are so compelling that public-safety agencies clamor for the chance to subscribe as quickly as the system is operational in their areas.

But that may not happen, and the only option for states under the current law is to pursue an opt-out alternative that may not be logistically possible for many, because of the timelines involved. This is why called the opt-out was described as a “false choice” for most states and territory by one governors’ representative testifying before Congress this summer.

By conducting its RFP early, New Hampshire is the one state that is positioned to be able to seriously consider the opt-out alternative, because it has conducted its procurement, has a vendor in place and has a comparison point for its governor (and executive council, which is an interesting wrinkle in the state) when the FirstNet state plan is delivered.

I sincerely hope that New Hampshire officials are telling the truth that there is no prejudgment concerning the opt-out alternative—the FirstNet state plan absolutely deserves full consideration, when it is available. If that is the case, it is hard to criticize state officials for conducting “due diligence” fully and maintaining all available options. In fact, it makes me wonder whether other states will take similar actions.

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

98112 (not verified)
on Sep 13, 2016

New Hampshire is acting very strategically, and frankly - yes-doing its due diligence. Every single time some momentous action occurs in the NPSBN (FirstNet) arena such as the NH contract event; the initial reaction by some is to diminish those steps taken that could remotely position a state to do what it has determined to be best for its responders, taxpayers, and all affected.
FirstNet erred early on by paying patronizing lip service to public safety and its known interests and needs Then going full speed ahead with a "take this and eat this" approach for public safety while appeasing the carriers through the actions of the FirstNet Board. The FirstNet vision has always been above all directed on how to make this about the well being of the carrier industry, not about public safety first and foremost.
Now as the clock winds down and the much touted FirstNet partner is selected; all states would be wise to take a lesson from New Hampshire. There are some serious issues with how this entire "ACT" has been governed out of D.C.. It is abundantly clear decisions were made, transparency was vanished, and doors were closed from day one. Long before FirstNet was even stood up. Public Safety is now a mere cover for a well planned wind fall to other interests before those of the PSE's responders.
Every state should acquaint itself with this entire effort, and evaluate all of the past-present-and future elements and value of FirstNet.
If they do so-I have no doubt that what New Hampshire has done by positioning themselves for maximum benefit and options to choose from; and not that of the only one served up by FirstNet will be repeated many times.
The NPSBN is an essential concept, and one of huge advantage to responders. FirstNet and their to date questionable methods are not and NEVER were the only way to achieve the goals of the NPSBN.

John Celentano (not verified)
on Sep 14, 2016

Donny:
I'm glad you clarified the New Hampshire situation.
One prospective bidder believes that the Rivada solution is using proprietary technology that ultimately will prove to be more expensive for the State.
As you explained, it's not over til it's over!
John

Phil Burks (not verified)
on Sep 14, 2016

"(Random thought: I wonder if the FirstNet opt-out decision is—or will be—a campaign issue in New Hampshire? Of course, that would require folks to understand what FirstNet actually is, much less what will be involved in making an opt-out decision.)"

Wow! GREAT thought! And educating the public on FirstNet IS going to be tricky! Look how long it's taken all of US, who have a clue!

Scott Newman (not verified)
on Sep 14, 2016

From a pure logistics point of view, it is insane that ALL States and territories aren't following suit already. 270 cumulative days isn't enough time for most large municipalities to complete their due diligence and select a product in the best interest of their constituents, let alone an entire state. It would actually be more negligent to sit back and hope for the best in the FirstNet proposal, as it clearly may not be in the best interests for all involved. By the time they really conducted a fiscal, governance, business case and use analysis on the FirstNet plan, they will have no time to develop their own. Sure the states may be able to wait until the State Plan to actually release their RFI/RFP, but they most certainly should have the entire package ready to release by the time that State Plan comes in.

The States wouldn't wait around for some other entity to provide with a plan for roads, bridges, or other infrastructure - they'd look into multiple alternatives, because that's in the best interest of public money. So what, pray tell, makes FirstNet so special?

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Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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