Urgent Matters

Want to keep track of FirstNet’s progress? Here are some key dates, milestones to remember

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When is FirstNet going to be built and provide the kind of reliable broadband services that the public-safety community has been seeking for the past decade? Here's one projection, based on FirstNet's RFP, current law and target deadlines for the key LTE standards body.

It has been two weeks since FirstNet released its final request for proposal (RFP), which is designed to solicit proposals from bidding teams—known as offerors in the RFP documents—that are willing to build and operate a nationwide public-safety broadband network during the next 25 years.

The good news: the RFP has been released, almost four years after Congress passed the legislation creating FirstNet. Even better news: Two weeks after the RFP’s release, there have been no signs of potential offerors becoming disenchanted with the project; in fact, at least two entities—AT&T and Rivada Networks—have expressed a high level of interest in pursuing the much-anticipated network.

But the big question remains the same: When is FirstNet going to be built and provide the kind of reliable broadband services that the public-safety community has been seeking for the past decade?

Everyone wants to know the answer. Actually, they really want to know when the FirstNet system will be deployed in their geographic area and how much will FirstNet services cost, because that promises to have a significant impact on future budgets and capital-expenditure plans, particularly for public-safety agencies.

FirstNet’s RFP may not spell out all the dates as clearly as some would like, but an estimated timetable can be pieced together from the various sections of the RFP, FirstNet’s enabling legislation and the work of 3GPP, which develops the standards for the LTE technology that will be leveraged in the nationwide system.

As with any projection, it is necessary to make some assumptions. For this exercise, we will assume the following:

  • FirstNet receives at least one viable proposal. If this doesn’t happen, the “restart” scenarios—particularly during an election year—are just too numerous and potentially complex to begin to address in this column.
  • An offeror will be awarded the contract on Nov. 1 of this year. This is the key milestone, because the deployment timetable is based on this date. If there are a bunch of viable bids, the evaluation process could take longer and the award could be made at a later date, which would push back the rest of the timeline. Meanwhile, if the winning bid is fairly clear and things go smoothly, the award process could be accelerated, resulting in the other project dates happening earlier.
  • FirstNet and the winning contractor are able to execute their respective tasks according the schedule outlined in the RFP.
  • There are no legal challenges. If the FirstNet project is disputed and lands in court for some reason, there is no way to estimate the kind of delays that might occur.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jan 28, 2016

given your initial assumptions your timeline looks like it is what is laid out in the proposal. Blind faith.. and lets examine your claim that "FirstNet essentially has met each key milestone within the promised schedule" what does that even mean? Your assumptions are so unlikely to be met that your report is a wasted effort. Why not run a timeline that assumes the likely delays and legal objections? and then after that; what do you really have in the end? When does someone say 8 billon dollars and for what? Not a single bit of improvement in LMR interoperability. You may like it or not but LMR is what brings public safety officials safely home at night.

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

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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